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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 3 — The Dragon's Jaws
"The Dragon's Jaws has one of the best taverns in the city. It has amazing ales on tap, and it only recently added a wing with a restaurant and rooms to become an inn. Several famous people have stayed at the Jaws when they visit the city."

   A member of the Purple Dragons assigned to guide them to the inn where they would be staying courtesy of the Royal Court of Cormyr was happily chatting with them as he led them along the curved Promenade. They passed the spot where the body of the fallen red dragon lay.

   "I have never heard of the place," Jayce said, "can you tell me more? Where did it get its name?"

   The soldier talked of a spellbattle that had once happened between some drunk men and an attractive woman whom they were harassing who turned out to have been a metallic dragon in disguise. It did not go well for those men or for the structure of the tavern's walls. On the bright side, it motivated the owner to finally add the addition that he had always wanted.

   Jayce seemed delighted to learn a new story and immediately began pondering how he might put the tale to music.

   They were led to a complex of large buildings on the corner. A street sign read "Street of Staves". The northwestern corner of the roof of the nearest stone addition of the complex was collapsed.

   "Here we are," said the Purple Dragon, making no comment about the likely dragon damage. He paused and held his arm to the doorway of the larger, wooden structure adjacent to and sharing a wall with the damaged stone one.

   They entered the inn. Belvin and Leokas once again refrained from entering the building and rested outside on some benches.

   Inside, they found a large open room 45 feet by 25 feet, with a second-story balcony. It had four long tables and four tables for two spread about and a bar with stools on the western side. There was a staircase going up to the balcony, a bench, and several doors to guest rooms on the southern wall, and a large fireplace on the eastern wall.

   All the tables were empty except for one of the smaller ones when they entered. At this table sat a noble woman, who ignored them and sipped at her beverage. (When Solisar tried to bow at her, she looked away and snobbishly raised her nose.) Only two others were in the room, the bartender, a dwarf with a cook's hat, and a young boy, who was sitting by the fire.

   The Purple Dragon entered behind them and approached the dwarf at the bar to inform him of their arrangements.

   The boy became very excited upon seeing guests enter. He hopped up from his stool and approached them. "Sirs and Ladies, can I interest you in placing an order for dinner from the Puffing Jester. We have a special arrangement with the Jaws, because a dragon burned the kitchen down. Only one golden dragon per person. Would you like to see a menu, please?"

   "Is that one gold piece per person?" asked Szordrin. "That is pricey, is it not?"

   "They are decent-sized meals," said the youth.

   "Suzail is rumored to have some of the best restaurants," said Jayce.

   "It is no rumor," said the boy.

   "Have you ever eaten in another city?" asked Oma.

   "No, but I know that the food is not as good anywhere else. It cannot be!"

   "That is a kind offer, young cutter, but I do not have any money for food," said Sofi.

   "What did you do with all the money from the sale of the metal eggs?" asked Oma.

   "I donated most of it to the Pantheist Temple of Tyr," said Sofi, as if this were a normal way to spend adventurers' loot. "Hakam has convinced me, at least, of the worthiness of Tyr's cause."

   "That is most generous of you, Sofi," said Hakam. "I shall pay for your meal."

   "That is very kind of you, Hakam," said Sofi. "Thank you." Then, to the boy, she said, "Do you have any food without meat?"

   "Why would anyone eat food with no meat?" says the boy.

   Jayce had already taken the menu from the boy by now and was skimming the Puffing Jester's offerings. "No, but the roast gammon pie looks good!" he exclaimed. "I shall have that."

   The boy took their orders, and he hurried off into the street. They took seats at one of the large tables. Jayce sat next to Sofi and asked if she wanted to hear more of the story that he had last been sharing with her.

   "I would enjoy that," she said.

   Szordrin sat next to her on the other side and said, "Why do you not share it with me too?"

   Kytharrah also sat down — as best he could — in a chair for storytime as well.

   Hakam walked over to the bartender, who greeted him cheerfully. "My name is Milo. Milo Dudley! You all look like you are in desperate need of some beverages to pour into those stomachs. What can I bring out for all of you? I am told that you are guests of the queen mother, so all drinks are on the house."

   "Where I come from," Szordrin whispered to Sofi back at the table, "a milo is a kind of drink."

   "I have never tasted that," said Sofi, but she half-giggled anyway.

   "Whatever you would recommend," answered Hakam.

   "Well, the most popular — and for good reason — drink on tap is Suzale," said Milo Dudley. "I trust you get the joke? But it is indeed a fine ale, with nutty undertones. It was first brewed here as a gift for King Azoun, and it is also the official ale of the Purple Dragons. I also have several wines from the Dalelands tonight, which are a special treat for this tenday."

   Suzale seemed satisfactory to everyone, except for Sofi, who only had water. Milo brought pewter pints to everyone, filled with the namesake ale. "I am told that you will also be needing rooms. Some of our rooms upstairs are not quite ready for you yet, but are currently being cleaned. There are three rooms here downstairs that are already available. Feel free to take your pick. They tend to be a bit noisier than the rooms upstairs, however, so you may want to wait. The stone of silence does not protect them as well from the sound from the tavern, but it still does some good. It depends on how light a sleeper you are.

   "The tavern, which is connected through that passage there, does not open until dusk, and that is when this dining area officially closes. With the kitchen closed, I truly do not mind however long you wish to relax in here, but I will be moving over there to start serving to the guests of the tavern wing."

   The youth, aided with a couple friends, returned with their delivered food as they were nearly finishing their first pint of ale. The advertised roast gammon pie was a roast ham pie with apricot, honey, pecans, and vegetables, and it was indeed quite tasty. Several of them offered Sofi bits of their crust, but she refused, "just in case it came into contact with the meat." Milo, however, without being asked, brought her out an assortment of dried fruit and vegetables from the storehouse in the back of the kitchen, and she happily accepted these.

   Hakam asked the red-bearded dwarf, "It looks like you do not have many customers. Have the dragon attacks affected your business?"

   "It is true," said Milo. "We used to be known for our restaurant food, but the restaurant is shut down until the kitchen can be repaired. We have had to make an arrangement with the Puffing Jester, who used to be a competitor. Tourism is also down these days. The bar will probably be full tonight though. Alcohol is a good way to forgot one's anxieties, and there are the ever popular competitions. I cannot recall which event is on the schedule for tonight, but they are always fun."

   They began to finish off their meals. Jayce still had more to go, as he was so busy storytelling and making Sofi laugh. As it grew closer to dusk, the noblewoman got up and moved to the other wing of the complex, leaving them the only guests in the room.

   They heard loud meowing outside the door, and Milo opened it, as if it was a common occurrence to open the door to meowing cats. A black cat pranced in, and they saw that it was Panther. He came and hopped up onto Oma's lap and began to meow and purr. "Thank you, Panther," she said. Then she said to the others at the table, "I invited Nargroth to join us after his shift is over. It is almost dusk; I am going to go into the tavern and wait for him."

   One by one, they followed after her. (Leokas and Belvin had joined them for dinner at the table, but now they escaped outside again.) The tavern wing was half the size of the dining area, but it was already filling up with customers, most of them middle-class or aspiring nobles. They gathered around another long table with ten chairs by a smaller fireplace on the western wall, near a set of stairs that likely went up to the inn's upper-level rooms. Most of the locals were either at the bar stools on the back wall or at small, square tables at the north wall at the front. Milo soon came over from the restaurant side and went to work behind the counter at the back, leaving table serving to two women. One of them came up to their new table, once they had settled.

   "Heya! My name is Rustreene," said the pleasantly plump and cheerful waitress in a tight bodice and poofy skirt. "Would you like to order any drinks?"

   "Water for me," says Sofi.

   "What do you have to offer?" asks Jayce.

   "For someone has handsome as you, anything you want?" She squeezed his cheek.

   Those who still felt like imbibing ordered more Suzale, and she went back behind to the bar counter to fill their orders. Nargroth came in through the door, and Oma called out to him. "There you are! I saved a seat for you."

   "Great! Where's the beer?"

   They were all served and began to enjoy themselves. Those less prone to drunkenness in the party glanced around the room and took in more of the patrons. At the bar were a couple notable individuals. At the very end was a bald mad with a sleeveless shirt whose muscles bulged from his arms. At the opposite end, on the stool against the wall, sat an obese man who appeared to be dressed in an off-white bathing robe with pale blue trim. His black hair was in a sort of top bun, though the front of his head seemed to be bald. He was certainly Kara-Turan of some variety. The fat man was stroking a cat that was curled up next to his pint.

   This animal and Panther were not the only cats in the room. Milo had set a bowl of milk on the bar counter, and two additional cats were currently drinking from it. Panther grew excited and asked Oma with a meow if he could go socialize with the other cats and drink some milk, and she allowed him.

   After a while, from the restaurant section of the establishment, a gnome entered the room. He walked with a limp and cane but otherwise seemed as fit as a youth.

   "Oloré, Amara!" he called out to one of the female patrons. To another, "How farest thee, Fredrik?" Indeed, he greeted every patron in the bar by name, and they all greeted him back like a long-lost family member. Then he game to the adventurers' table. "Last but not least, we have newcomers this night! Are ye new to the town or only to this, my tavern?"

   "We arrived in Suzail this morning," said Hakam. "We are waiting for an audience with the dowager queen on the morrow."

   "Impressive! You must all be some important people to have a meeting with the queen mother. Name is Gnorm. That is Gnorm with a G. Are you staying up until the halfling-throwing bout? First place wins a kiss from Molly Sara and a platinum coin." He eyed Kytharrah. "Now you definitely want to play this game; I can tell."

   "Play?"

   "What are the rules?" asked Solisar, a bit concerned for the well being of the mentioned halfling.

   "No offense, my elven friend, but halflings probably weigh more than you can throw."

   "I am asking for my minotaur friend."

   "Well, well, then. Mostly, it is exactly what it sounds like. Here's how it works. We have halflings who have volunteered to — with the help of a little alcohol — be the tossee on a rotating schedule. Next door is an extra-long barn that I have converted into a gaming hall for feats of strength and agility, and tonight, halfling-tossing is on the schedule. Basically, whoever can toss the halfling the farthest wins. The rules are: no magic, just your own natural strength. You get three tosses per person. Every round, that is, every toss — all players toss in a round — you win three points for farthest throw, two for the second farthest, and one for third. Highest score after three rounds wins. If there is ever a tie in a single round, the tied players for that round toss again."

   "What if there is injury to the halfling?" asked Szordrin.

   "Oh, we have a few clerics and magic potions on stock for that sort of thing, but we dump gallons of water onto the ground to make it into a mud pit so that it is safe for the tossees. No one has gotten terribly hurt yet — bruises, definitely, but the local halfling population sees it as a sign of manliness to volunteer. I honestly did not come up with the idea; one of the halflings did. But it sure is fun to watch!"

   "This sounds like the best tavern ever!" said Nargroth, who had already downed his first drink.

   Gnorm left his guests and walked to the sliding wall on the opposite side from the fireplace. To loud cheers from the crowd, he slid the wall back, revealing an opening into the adjacent barn.

   The bald and muscular man at the end of the bar counter slammed his stein down with a shout, causing the cats to jump and scatter temporarily. "Yeah, it's time!" He hurried from his tool to the barn.

   Then the obese man at the other end stood up and untied his kimono slowly. The crowd in the bar began cheering loudly, "Maru! Maru! Maru!" He removed the robe and set it gently on his stool. At first, he appeared naked, but he was, in fact, wearing a thick and padded loincloth. Out of his clothes, it was clear that he was not only fat; he was also powerfully built.

   This Maru slowly made his way into the barn, and Nargroth grabbed Kytharrah by the arm. "Come on, buddy, let's do this!"

   The barn was 35 feet wide and 120 feet long. It was about two and a half stories tall and dimly lit by torches. The northern end, where the contestants and audience were gathering was hardwood-floored for the first 20 feet. Beyond that was mud, all the way to the back wall. Four workers were standing in it, spread out along its length, and bore small flags of various colors for marking distances.

   The halfling "tossee" was standing at the edge of the floor, talking to Gnorm and looking quite excited. He was dressed in a loincloth and looked to be a typical hin specimen, probably weighing about 35 pounds.

   "This is going to be awesome," said Nargroth.

   "Do not hurt yourself," said Oma.

   "What? How would I hurt myself?"

   "Are you going to compete?" Szordrin asked Sofi. "You are very strong, are you not?"

   "No, not particularly," she said. "I just know how to make the most of the strength that I do have. I could never toss a halfling. Thanks for asking though." She smiled.

   They watched as a couple of nobles removed their shirts and then went over to try to pick the halfling up. The halfling protested when they each struggled to lift him with ease. Apparently, he had to approve of any tossers. In the end, the only contestants were Kytharrah, Nargroth, Maru, and the bald-headed man. Straws were drawn, and Nargroth pulled the longest straw, so he would be the first to throw.

   The crowd pressed themselves against the wall to give the half-orc room, as he stood in a circle marked out on the floor at the edge of the mud.

   "Are you ready?" asked the halfling.

   "Are you sure that you are okay with this, little guy?" asked Nargroth.

   "I was born ready!" said the halfling. He lay face down at the edge of the mud and raised his feet up, crossed together for Nargroth to grab. The half-orc lifted him off the ground by his ankles, and the tossee dangled, his hands barely brushing the floor. The halfling was laughing, so Nargroth began to spin. The halfling rose into the air as Nargroth spun around one, two, three times and then released his grip, lobbing the halfling into the air.

   The hin flew in an arc 50 feet through the air, shouting in glee the whole time, and then landed in the mud with a loud splat. The crowd cheered. Immediately, the nearest worker moved as quickly as he could through the mud to reach the halfling and help him to his feet. Once they wiped the mud from his face, he turned to the crowd and gave a big grin. They cheered again. A flag was placed off near the wall to mark the distance. Then it was the minotaur's turn.

   "That was amazing!" said Oma, when Nargroth stepped aside.

   "I know! Wasn't it?" he said.

   Kytharrah took up more space, so the crowd had to rearrange a bit for him to safely spin. Once that was accomplished, he lifted the halfling effortlessly off the ground by his feet. Then, he began his rotation — around and around and release. The halfling soared through the air. Splat! "75 feet!" called Gnorm. The crowd cheered.

   "Well done making me look bad!" said Nargroth to Kytharrah, but he punched him in the arm in a friendly way and was smiling.

   Next up was the Kara-Turan giant of a man. He seemed to have a routine of some sort. He did a squat with his hands together as if in prayer and made some grunts and performed some stretches and breathing exercises before even picking up the halfling. When he finally released the halfling into the air, it was with a loud, grunting yell. The halfling dropped into the mud barely four feet past Kytharrah's marker. Maru raised his bulky arms to the air to a roaring cheer. "Maru! Maru! Maru!"

   One of the drunk patrons standing next to Jayce leaned over and said to him, "This is great! We haven't had any real competition for Maru in ages. I haven't seen him toss a hin more than 60 feet since the time that a friendly ogre was in town."

   The halfling was limping a little as he made his way back, covered utterly in thick mud, but he was still smiling enough for his teeth to show. "Urogalan's toe, that was great!"

   Finally, it was the bald man's turn. He cracked his knuckles and took a deep breath. He raised the halfling off the ground and began his spin. His rotation was the fastest of the four tossers, but he released too early. The halfling flew sideways and smacked into the side wall of the barn.

   "Ow!" shouted the halfling, followed by what were presumably curses in the hin tongue.

   "Here, drink this," said the nearest worker, giving him a tincture of something in a vial.

   Gnorm addressed the group of onlookers. "That ends round one. The score is currently: three points for Maru, two points for Kytharrah the minotaur, and one point for Nargroth the half-orc."

   There was another round of cheering.

   Nargroth then readied himself for his second toss. This time, he got more into the throw, adding an extra rotation and a wild, Uthgardt battle yell.

   It worked. The halfling flew as far as Maru's last throw, 80 feet. "Yeah! Ilmater be praised!" shouted Nargroth.

   The crowd went wild with excitement, exchanging many a "Did you see that?" Oma began chanting, "Nargroth! Nargroth! Nargroth!" and the rest of the patrons soon joined her.

   It was several minutes before they all calmed down and gave Kytharrah the needed room for his second throw.

   "You can do it, Kytharrah!" called Sofi.

   The minotaur grinned. He also believed that he could do it. While not the brightest, he knew how to mirror others well, and he had observed the technique that Maru had used. He lifted the halfling off the ground. "Make me fly!" encouraged the tossee.

   So, Kytharrah made him fly. "Weeeee!" shouted the halfling as he careened through the barn. There was a collective gasp, followed by a gentle thud. The halfling's head barely struck the back door of the barn. "100 feet!" announced Gnorm the gnome. "Unbelievable!"

   Patrons were spilling beer and slapping their hands together over their heads in excitement.

   Kytharrah, however, stomped into the deep mud to run over to the little demihuman to see if he was alright. The halfling assured Kytharrah that he was fine. He had hit the mud first and slid into the door at the back of the barn, not slammed into it directly. "Besides, that was amazing; I've never flown so far in my life. Can you do it again?"

   Maru appeared distraught and confused as he stepped up for his second throw. He did not seem angry, rather simply in genuine shock. He was so emotionally distracted by the turn of events that he made a severe mistake in technique. The halfling only traveled 25 feet, dropping into the mud with a plop. There was a collective gasp from the crowd, and Maru buried his face in his hands, ashamed. "Such dishonor," he muttered to himself as he cleared the throwing circle.

   The fourth contestant only made a distance of ten feet on his second throw, but at least he sent the halfling straight instead of into the wall.

   "I scored points! I've never scored points before."

   "I hate to tell you," said Gnorm, "but you still didn't score points. That was only ten feet. Maru was fifteen feet farther."

   "Hrast," said the man, and his shoulders sagged.

   Gnorm announced the results. "The scores for round two are Kytharrah at first for three points, Nargroth second for two points, and Maru third with one point. The cumulative scores are Kytharrah in first place with five points total, Maru in second place with four points, and Nargroth in third with three points. One more round to go!"

   The barwenches passed among the onlookers to take more orders. Then Nargroth readied himself for his final throw. He lifted the drunk and happy halfling off the ground and tried to concentrate. He began to rotate.

   Jayce slapped the shoulder of one of the drunk patrons nearby. "Watch this." Then he shouted out, "Hey, Nargroth, I slept with Oma last night!"

   "What? I did...!" but Jayce covered Oma's mouth.

   "What?" roared Nargroth, full of rage.

   "Sugoi!" exclaimed Maru, when Nargroth released.

   The halfling once again reached the back wall. "Oh, my head! My poor, curly-haired head!" A potion vial later, however, and the halfling was beaming.

   "100 feet, twice in the same night!" exclaimed Gnorm. "This is a first for the Dragon's Jaws."

   Nargroth, fuming, was struggling to catch his breath. The bald-headed man came over to him and patted him on the back. "It is alright, man, calm down. It is just a game. What a throw!"

   Kytharrah threw well, but not as amazingly as in round two. The tossee landed in the mud at 75 feet.

   Maru seemed to have better control of himself this time. He appeared peaceful and took a solid minute almost in a trance before even picking up the halfling. Then, with a rush of motion faster than anyone would expect for a man of his weight, he spun around and heaved the halfling hands first through the air. Another thud against the back doors.

   "Incredible!" said Gnorm. "We have a tie for this round between Nargroth and Maru."

   "I ain't had my throw yet," said the bald man. "I can hit the back wall too!"

   They gave the man his chance, and, to be fair, he had a personal record of 35 feet. His friends were excited by this and encouraged him. Then, he cleared the way for Nargroth.

   Nargroth, however, looked exhausted from his previous throw. He gave it his best, and the halfling sailed into the mud. A flag was marked at 50 feet. The crowd sighed.

   Again, Maru gave his full concentration to the task at hand, even holding his arm out and pointing at a distant spot and squinting, as if performing an artillery calculation in his head. With a final two spins, he let fly the little humanoid, sending him to land just ten feet beyond Nargroth's throw. He had played it safe. He then turned and bowed at the crowd, who cheered wildly.

   Gnorm gave the final results. "Round three: Maru wins the tie-breaker throw and earns three points; Nargroth earns two points, and Kytharrah comes in with one point. That gives us five points total for Nargroth, six for Kytharrah, and seven total points for Maru. Maru is the halfling-toss champion!" His announcement was followed once again by loud cheering. Then Gnorm announced, "Come back tomorrow night for the axe throwing and see if you can depose yours truly as champion. Now, have a safe night and journey home."
Session: 121st Game Session - Monday, Sep 28 2020 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
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Tags: Chapter 3 , Recap , Suzail
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 3 — War Wizards
After Dauneth left them, they had little to do but sit or stand around in the large court chamber and wait.

   Szordrin decided to have a little fun with the zone of truth enchantment in the room, and tried as hard as he could to tell Kytharrah how intelligent he was acting today, but he simply could not get the words to come out of his mouth. His mouth opened, but nothing came out. It was the strangest thing.

   Curious, he tried other variations. Kytharrah seemed confused why Szordrin kept facing him and opening his mouth as if to speak and yet not saying anything. At last, Szordrin said something, "Kytharrah, you are as intelligent today as you have ever been!"

   Szordrin sounded quite impressed with him, and this made Kytharrah feel proud. He bobbed his head happily. "Play?"

   Szrodrin had another idea. "Come with me," he said. He walked to the doorway, and the minotaur followed. Szordrin opened the door and poked his head out. The guard standing there eyed him strangely. "We have run out of water," he said, "could more be sent, please?" The guard nodded and stepped off to inform one of the stewards. Szordrin then stepped fully through the door and turned back to Kytharrah. "Indeed, your intelligence today knows no bounds!" he bluffed, with no difficulty.

   Kytharrah was shocked to have received two compliments from his bearded friend in one day. Ferry seemed to make funny noises and snorts, his laugh.

   A steward did bring more water, and then a scholarly woman eventually entered the room. She was carrying a stack of books and scrolls and looked like she might tumble over with them. Jayce rushed forward to help her set the books on the marble desk, and she thanked him.

   "Greetings, I am Shandri Binder, court scholar. I was told that there were people here looking for information or records from Wa and our foreign ministry there. I may be of some help to you, but do understand that we no longer have an active embassy in Wa at this time, so the information I can provide may be out of date or inaccurate."

   Shandri looked too young to have been active at the same time as Yunoko, but she certainly had carried a lot of resources with her.

   "What questions were you hoping to have answered?"

   Solisar began, "One of your former ambassadors to Wa, Yunoko, was the wife of someone very important to one of the members of our party. We know that she was murdered, and we are trying to track down her murderer. We have limited knowledge, but we do have a few clues." Solisar quietly discussed with his companions whether they should share one or both of Yunoko's letters. Hakam was in favor of this, and Szordrin agreed.

   Shandri read over both of the letters carefully. Then she picked up the first letter again and seemed to be intrigued by words written on the third page. "This is intriguing. Indeed, Yunoko Blacksilver was the second ambassador to Wa from Cormyr. She was the daughter of Davin Blacksilver. I do not know too much about the history of the events written about here, but it is interesting that she mentions the Harpers." At this last phrase, she strongly emphasized the words, in that way that people often do to pass on a subtle hint while failing to be in any way subtle. She continued. "One thing I can certainly help with, however, is this emperor that she named, Goshukara Kando. I have here in my pile of scrolls an imperial succession list of Wa." She handed to Hakam a heavy and thick scroll from the desk. "This was recorded by the first ambassador from Cormyr to Wa. He translated it from a document that he received from their Ministry of History."

   Hakam loosened the cord, and the scroll unrolled and poured all the way to the stone floor at his feet. Its entire length nearly matched his height. Beginning with the First Emperor Kochi, Master of the Peach Tree in the the First Year of Chisho, it listed every emperor of Wa in order, from pre-historical and mythological times until Wa Year 1754, which was 1311 in the Cormyrreckoning.

   Hakam first scrolled through the list, trying to find the name of Goshukara Eichiro. "Goshukara Eichiro, the son, is not listed, but the father is, the fourth from the end, 'The 1680th Year, Goshukara Kando.'"

   "That would be the year 1262 in the Dalereckoning," explained Shandri for their benefit. "The document was created in first year of Azoun IV as well as the first year of Shogun Matasuuri Nagahide in the Year of the Highmantle, 1336 Dalereckoning. Davin Blacksilver became our first ambassador in 1271 Cormyrreckoning, so...." She did some math in her head. "...1296 Dalereckoning."

   "1336 in the Dalereckoning is also when Yunoko wrote that first letter," said Solisar. "The Year of the Dark Dragon, which she called it, is but another name for the Year of the Highmantle."

   "Is that not also the year that she and Onran were married?" asked Hakam. He removed the portrait of Yunoko and looked at it again. "No, it was 1335. She died in 1338."

   "So, you have found the rakshasa on the list then?" said Jayce. "But what does that mean for us exactly?"

   "We also believe that this Kando, this rakshasa imposter, is the murderer of Ambassador Yunoko," Hakam explained to the visiting sage, and she nodded but had nothing more to add at present.

   "And we suspect you to be the grandson of Eichiro," said Hakam to Szordrin, "the great-grandson of Kando."

   Sofi asked, "Szordrin, did not someone in the group mention a prophecy about emperors that related to you?"

   "Yes, 'The ninth emperor of the seventh dynasty is in' my past," he replied.

   "Goshukara is the dynasty name, yes?" asked Hakam.

   "Yes," said the Wa scholar. "In most of the lands of Kara-Tur, the surname is given first."

   "The ninth emperor of the seventh dynasty," repeated Szordrin.

   "That cannot be," said Shandri. "There have only been three dynasties in Wa. You can see it right there."

   "Perhaps the prophecy counts a change in dynasty each time that the capital moves," suggested Szordrin, who had picked up the tail end of the scroll and was pointing at the places in the line of emperors where such changes were noted. "See, here, 'The 1580th Year, Goshukara Iiso, who moved the capital to the city of the same name.'"

   "Or could it be that there were secret usurpers throughout this history," said Hakam. "There is also an empress here. Could a female break the line?"

   "It is possible," said Shandri. "Women are certainly not viewed in a favorable light in Wa, from what I understand."

   "There is only one empress on the entire list," noted Solisar, who was holding onto the top of the scroll now, "Empress Bishkammon, who ruled in Wa Year 669."

   "Is Chisho the first dynasty?" asked Hakam.

   "No," said Shandri, "Chisho is the era, the epoch. They name the pre-historical eras. The first dynasty included a single emperor, said to have reigned for 412 years."

   "Then Kochi is the first dynasty," said Szordrin, "and Kasada is the second."

   "Yes, the second emperor was Kasada."

   "And I see that that dynasty carries through two eras," said Hakam.

   "Yes, the Kasada dynasty died out with Kasada Kogakusha in the 581st Year of the Kuni era, which followed the Koyo era, when the first Kasada ruled."

   "Oh," said Szordrin, continuing to scroll through the list, "there is a large gap between Wa Year 222 and 669. See here."

   "An occupation?" asked Hakam. "The Shou Lung Traitorum?"

   "Yes, exactly," said Shandri. "During that time period, Shou Lung invaded Wa, and the empire fell apart."

   "How many dynasties ruled during that time?" asked Szordrin.

   "Governors from Shou Lung were appointed, but the Goshukara took control again afterward, with the nation's only Empress in power, as you can see noted, until her son came of age."

   "What if we assume that Kando is the ninth emperor and count backwards?" asked Hakam. "Where does that take us? To Hikari in 1529. There is nothing noted here to suggest anything significant happening then."

   Shandri shrugged.

   "Perhaps there were multiple rakshasa usurpers, and the prophecy is telling us when the first was," suggested Hakam. "Perhaps the deceit goes back much further than we had thought."

   "You think that they kept an artificial line going for three or four hundred years?" asked Szordrin. "Do you think that the same rakshasa kept on changing forms?"

   "It is possible," said Hakam. "They are shapeshifters."

   "And they reincarnate," reminded Jayce.

   "I wonder if this Shou Lung Traitorum counts as a change in dynasty," said Hakam.

   "The ninth Goshukara was the first Goshukara to reign after that occupation," noted Solisar.

   "Oh," said Hakam, "there is also the fact that two entries below that, 'Goshukara Sukui... is slain by Nitta Kyozetsu, who briefly reigns as Emperor.' That would add two gaps. That would give us seven."

   "How so?" asked Szordrin.

   "You have the first and second dynasty, then the Goshukara, as third. Then comes the Shou Lung Interregnum, counting as four. Then the restoration of the Empress and her son for five. Next, there is Nitta Kyozetsu as the sole member of the 'sixth dynasty' and finally the Goshukara again."

   "...As the seventh," said Szordrin. "Oh, I see. So then, is Yami the first of the seventh?"

   "Yami would be one, yes," said Hakam. He and Szordrin counted together. "Two, three, four..., Bohatei."

   "That is still hundreds and hundreds of years ago," said Szordrin.

   Shandri seemed confused by all this. "Wait, so, you have a prophecy that an emperor from Wa Year 901 is related to you somehow?"

   "Barmy!" said Sofi. "Who would have ever tumbled to that?"

   "We may have to think about this further," said Hakam.

   Hakam and Solisar asked permission of Shandri and began to furiously copy down as much of the information on the five-foot scroll as they could.

   Hakam then spoke again with Shandri. "Do you know anything more about the murder of ambassador Yunoko?"

   "According to the records here," she said, as she opened one of the booklets on the desk, "the ambassador was murdered in Wa, while on assignment. However, she spent most of her time there anyhow. She and her husband lived in Wa primarily and came to Cormyr to report. It says here that she was survived also by her mother, who was a citizen of Wa. All we ever received from Wa was a notification that our ambassador had been murdered."

   "So, she could have been anywhere in Wa when she was murdered?"

   "Yes, I am sorry that we have nothing more precise than that."

   "Are any of her relatives, on her father's side, still living here in Cormyr?" asked Hakam.

   "Yes, the Blacksilvers are a noble family. There are many of them living in Cormyr that you might be able to talk to. I have no means to contact them, and they are a noble family, so you cannot very well just go and knock on their door to chat. Their holdings are not in Suzail either, and I do not know where they are; I only know of the name."

   Just then, the door opened, and another woman entered. She was clearly a mage, wearing a rich, green dress. She carried a wizard's staff, and there was an arcanabula, a spellbook, attached to the belt at her hip. Shandri Binder noticed and immediately bowed to the newcomer and cleared her throat loudly. The adventurers bowed (or curtsied) as well.

   "Lady Eveningspire," said Shandri, "What a pleasant sur.... I was not expect.... How good to see you. I present to you.... I do not believe that I learned any of your names."

   They all introduced themselves in turn. Jayce, after giving his name, humbly apologized and begged the lady's forgiveness for not bowing sooner.

   The noble woman waved her hand to dismiss his apology. Lady Eveningspire held herself in an elegant manner, but her mouth showed lines of age. She had a pair of crystal spectacles that floated magically over her sharp nose, and her graying hair was braided and fell over her green velvet cape.

   "Thank you, Sage Binder; you may be dismissed." Shandri went to gather up her books and scrolls. "No, you may leave your books here. You can gather them when I am finished speaking with our guests." Shandri departed. Lady Eveningspire waved her hand, and the door closed on its own.

   Now she spoke to the group, looking down and eyeing them over her floating spectacles as if to scold them. "Adventurers should not walk into the Royal Court of Cormyr and openly talk about the Harpers."

   Kytharrah sniffed the air. He smelled the green lady's perfume, but he also smelled someone else's perfume. It was not Oma, who always wore strong perfume, and it was not Sofi, who never wore any perfume at all. The smell was moving, and it came from that tapestry over there....

   "I apologize, milady," said Hakam, "but it was not we who made any mention of the Harpers but rather your sage who read the word aloud from a private letter."

   Szordrin heard a woman's voice speaking arcane syllables, and recognized that someone, presumably invisible, was attempting to dispel magic. He drew a wand and called out, "Invisible friend, what are you dispelling?"

   A woman popped into vision among them, her spell completed. Solisar felt his ring of counterspelling activating. Hakam saw the aura of chaos that always surrounded Oma and Jayce fade away and then gradually return.

   "Adventurers should not try to use divination magics when War Wizards are present," said the new woman.

   She stood at only about five feet three inches and had light brown skin. She was dressed in leather trousers and a white tunic with a thick red coat crosslaced in the front. Her leather boots went up past her knees. A thick red and white layered cape hung from her back, and there were armored pauldrons of a gold color at her shoulders. She wore a red hat with an attached headscarf that covered her neck and the sides of her face. From her thick belt hung a scabbard for a longsword that glowed with a magical aura to Solisar's eyes. In her hand was a magical staff that was taller than she was. Additionally, Solisar noticed that her rings, brooch, boots, and armored bracers also radiated magic, as did her person. She seemed to be older than thirty years.

   Her darker skin and strange manner of dress stood out from that of other Cormytes, and her accent reminded some of them of Rimardo and Diero, two of the sailors on the Frihet. (Rimardo often helmed the wheel when Loreene or Ombert were not on their shifts.)

   "My divine vision is a gift from my god, to execute my role as his justiciar, not a spell of my own weaving," answered Hakam.

   The newcomer nodded cautiously at his reply, but said nothing more. The woman in green chuckled a little and said, "Please forgive us for the precautions, but you must understand that we act to protect our kingdom."

   She continued, "I am Lady Laspeera Inthré of Eveningspire. Some call me the 'Mother' of the War Wizards. This is Caladnei, Royal Mage of the Court of Azoun V and leader of the War Wizards. As you can see, your questions have roused the interest of our national defense. You speak of information of the death of one of our ambassadors and also of the role of the Harpers. Tell me more."

   Hakam once more repeated the details of the story and shared again the letters as evidence.

   The two women read the letters and quickly grew more trusting as time went on. (The presence of the truth enchantment helped in this regard.) They asked a few clarifying questions of the group and others regarding where they were from and why they would care about a Cormyrean Ambassador.

   "The Dowager Queen may wish to speak with them," said Caladnei to Lady Laspeera. "She may have known this Yunoko." Laspeera nodded.

   Then Caladnei addressed the group. "Unlike many of the nobles of this country, the regent and I see the benefit of adventures acting on behalf of the crown. Since your quest involves matters of state, we may be able to offer you a special charter and access to resources that could be of great help to you, but we shall let the Queen Mother decide."

   "That would me most helpful to our course," said Szordrin. "We thank you."

   "If our interests do align," said Hakam, "then perhaps we can work together, but know that we are on a quest from the gods that may diverge from your nation's interests."

   "My master's wife was your ambassador," said Szordrin, "and I desire to avenge her death and his."

   "A fair quest," said Caladnei.

   "Would you be willing to spend the night in Suzail?" asked Lady Laspeera. "The Queen, Filfaeril, is very busy, but I suspect that we could fit you into her schedule tomorrow morning, early afternoon at the latest."

   Caladnei said, "As you must know, the matter of the dragons currently has our military and court occupied."

   Hakam agreed to stay until they had acquired the information that they needed. "Do you have defense against the dragons? That is, would it be safe for us to spend the night here?"

   "The dragonrage affects the whole world," said Caladnei, "but I would warrant that Suzail is one of the safest places in Toril to stay with all of the War Wizards and knights present, not to mention a number of adventuring groups such as yourselves. I cannot promise that the roof will not come caving in, of course, but if it does, be assured that their will be a swarm of wizards there to slay the dragon posthaste."

   "We shall even pay for your stay," said the older woman. "You will be considered guests of the court. We shall have a Purple Dragon escort you to an establishment called the Dragon's Jaws."

   "Play?" said Kytharrah.

   Caladnei gave him a strange look.

   "Now is not the time, Kytharrah," said Hakam. "I apologize; he is simple like a child."

   Laspeera laughed, and then the two War Wizards stepped behind the tapestry and departed.
Session: 121st Game Session - Monday, Sep 28 2020 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
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Tags: Chapter 3 , Recap , Suzail
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 3 — Suzail
Cormyr was a land on the Dragonmere, a massive lake 100 miles wide and even farther in length. The Dragonmere was the western spur of the Sea of Fallen Stars, and Cormyr was on its northern shores. Solisar knew that the nation was once a part of the elven empire of Cormanthyr; hence, its name. Hakam knew of Cormyr for having one of the best legal systems in all of Faerûn — not as good as Calimshan's, of course, but at least quite developed. The king of Cormyr, Azoun IV, had died a few years ago, supposedly in battle to defend his kingdom against a dragon. The heir, Azoun V, was a young infant, and the nation was currently controlled by the boy's aunt and Azoun IV's youngest daughter, Alusair Obarskyr, the Steel Regent. She was disliked by the nobles of the land, and she herself despised having to rule. She was a warrior and a strategist and had no love of royal life. She understood adventurers, however, having once been one herself, and she welcomed them into her kingdom, seeing them as beneficial to the defense of her lands. This was all the more so during this dragonrage.

   The fog was heavy on the Dragonmere as Oma brought the Frihet gently into its waters. This was seen as a good thing, as they could hopefully avoid notice as they fell out of the sky. Then, under Ombert's control, they sailed in to the port and capital of Suzail. They intentionally sailed in from a distance of four miles, such that it took about two hours to arrive at Suzail's docks.

   The sailors were guided in by flags and fog lights and directed to their berthing site. There was an abundance of seagulls and the strong smell of fish.

   The buildings were well constructed, though simple. Suzail seemed, at first glance, a relatively small city. This was certainly the case by Calishite standards. It was probably a bit larger than Silverymoon but smaller than Darromar.

   The adventurers disembarked and stood upon the dock. On the street, commoners were walking about and a patrol of soldiers, dressed in uniforms of purple tabards, with purple dragons upon their triangular shields. With the soldiers walked an obvious wizard in purple robes.

   "The famous Purple Dragons," said Jayce, "Cormyr's military. They are known throughout Faerûn for their well-trained regiments."

   "Are these a local force or a national one?" asked Hakam.

   "They serve both roles, if I am not mistaken," said Jayce.

   No one greeted them immediately beyond the flagger who had guided them in, and he had already moved on to another dock, but it looked like the dockmaster's house was nearby. Several cats were chasing seagulls on the parallel docks.

   Hakam noticed a sign nailed to a post at the end of the dock. He went up to it and read the following:
Notice
~ All persons entering Cormyr must register with the officials of a border garrison. ~
~ Foreign currency can only be used in certain locations. Please exchange your coins for Cormyrean golden lions at your first opportunity. ~
~ Adventurers must acquire a charter before undertaking any operation as a group. ~
~ All weapons must be peace-bonded. The only persons exempt from this law are members of chartered adventuring groups and members of mercenary groups that can offer proof of employment. ~
~ The harming of cats is forbidden. ~
~ Bow your head to royalty and the local nobility. ~
~ Purple Dragons have the right to search you upon request. ~
~ Hunting on private land is forbidden. ~
Addendum
~ Because of the recent dragon attacks, no citizen is permitted outside after midnight. ~

   Oma, standing behind her fellow Calishite asked, "What does it say?"

   He read them back to her.

   "How delightful! Panther can come with me this time," said Oma.

   "I had heard that cats were superstitiously favored here," said Solisar, who then proceeded to warn everyone to bow before nobility.

   "How do we recognize nobility, I wonder," said Hakam.

   Kytharrah was particularly confused. To him, lowering a head meant that one was about to charge an enemy. For his people, raising the chin was what one did in the presence of someone more important.

   "I suggest that we watch carefully those around us," said Hakam. "If we see others bow their heads, let us also bow our heads."

   One of the patrolling bands of Purple Dragons neared them. "Hail, visitors! Is this your first time on our shores?" The man speaking wore a purple-feathered helmet to distinguish him from the troops and wizard that he led.

   Solisar greeted the man in the Chondathan language and then explained in Common that they were newly arrived.

   "Are you from the land of Evereska?" asked the knight.

   "Nay, I come from across the Trackless Sea, from Evermeet."

   "What reasons have you for coming here? Are you adventurers?"

   "Yes, we are adventurers," said Hakam, "but our purpose here is only for information."

   The knight motioned toward the sign post. "You should be aware that Cormyr is very welcoming to adventurers, but we do have a few requirements of visitors for the safety of our people, that you please have your weapons peace-tied and register your visit. If you seek information on our kingdom, you may wish to visit the Royal Court. If you have not yet registered, just down the road on the right is the nearest Purple Dragon guard post. You can see the large banner just there." He pointed.

   "Where is this Royal Court?" asked Solisar.

   "If you head north of here," said the knight, "you will come to a large way called the Promenade. You cannot miss it. The Royal Court is a complex of buildings on the north side of the Promenade stretching a quarter mile or so."

   Solisar thanked him for the information.

   Hakam asked the man about how one could identify a noble.

   "Nobles tend to dress fancier than the commoners, although styles change with the seasons here. Currently, everyone is wearing round hats with the right side pinned up with feathers. Last month, it was the left side. Three months ago, they were three-cornered hats. In any case, if the men and women are wearing the latest fashion in hats, there is a good chance that they are either nobility or think that they are." He chuckled.

   "So that we do not run afoul of the law here," asked Hakam, "what constitutes an 'operation' by adventurers? If we are here to seek information, is that considered an operation?"

   "Honestly, I do not know the legal definitions. If you do want to get an adventurers' charter, the soldiers who register you can give you that information. My job is to keep the peace and to make sure that our people are safe in the streets. As you must know, it has been a chaotic time. One never knows when a dragon is going to swoop overhead. We have to keep our eyes open... and up."

   As he spoke this, they noticed that most of his band were paying little attention to the conversation with the newcomers and were instead gazing through the fog toward the sky in all directions.

   Solisar asked, "When was the last time that the dragons were sighted?"

   "Three days ago was the last time that I saw one. Thankfully, it has been smaller dragons who think themselves stronger than they are, and our War Wizards have been able to take them down, but when you take down even a smaller dragon, that alone can cause collateral damage."

   "Which colors?" asked Solisar.

   The man chuckled again. "I have seen every color of the rainbow, even some colors that I did not know existed. We have one or two dragons per tenday at least fly overhead to see if we are worth attacking, and we are but one city in the country. It is much worse in some places." The man looked at Hakam. "I have heard that some of the worst attacks were in the capital of Calimshan, Calimport, is it not?"

   Hakam looked horrified. "What have you heard?"

   "Some ancient blue dragon, a great wyrm, attacked the palace itself. I do not know much more than that, but that is what the rumor said. I wish that I could tell you more."

   The knight looked back at his patrol. "Well, if you would excuse us, we need to keep patrolling."

   The sign for the Purple Dragon guardpost was only some 40 feet down the street, directly across from what they still suspected was the dockmaster's house. The sign before the door confirmed the location, the Purple Dragon guarding the door opened it for them without a word, and a few of them stepped in.

   There were two small tables covered with books and scrolls. Along the walls were extra weapons and armor, crates of food, and wood for a fireplace. Stairs went up to another level. Three persons were in the room, two male soldiers and a female War Wizard holding a magic staff. The woman sat on a bench by a back door in the northwest corner. The men each sat at one of the tables.

   The Purple Dragon at the smaller of the two tables greeted Hakam and then asked where they were from.

   Hakam precisely listed each of their countries of origin but was careful not to mention that they had come to Cormyr by spelljammer.

   "Gods," said the man, "some of you have come a long way to Cormyr!" He looked like he was going to query further and then simply shrugged. "You adventurers have some odd backgrounds and powerful means, I know."

   "We have been guided by the gods themselves," said Hakam.

   "Hmm," said the man, in a tone that suggested that he had heard such claims before and not believed them then either. He continued his official line of questioning, as he dipped a quill in ink and opened a thin book. "Are any of you spellcasters?"

   Hakam clarified with the man what counted for a spellcaster and, after a few minutes, provided a number that seemed satisfactory.

   "However you count it, then," said the soldier, "if you have more than three, we require you to register as such up at the Royal Court. What we will do for you here, however, is peace-tie your weapons so that you can pass through our streets without rousing suspicion, as you make your way there. We will also send a guard to lead the way, so that you will not get lost. Then, you can register there and receive further details about your rights and responsibilities as spellcasting and adventuring guests.

   "Now, are you planning on applying for an official charter?"

   "What would require a charter?" asked Hakam. "We are really only here to gather information."

   "Typically, if your purpose is to traverse the Cormyrean countryside to search out dungeons or fight monsters or pursue some quest, such as a holy mission from your gods, that would require an adventurers' charter, and you would need to talk with the High Warden to obtain one."

   "What if we do not intend on leaving the city?"

   "If your only purpose in the city is to visit some libraries and sages, then peace-tying your weapons is enough, provided that you register your group, because you have a large enough group and it includes spellcasters... and apparently a minotaur. Hmm."

   "What is the fee for registration?" asked Hakam.

   "Twenty-five golden lions."

   "Where can we exchange our currency?"

   "Oh, if you register up at the Royal Court, they will take foreign currency. The shops in Suzail will likely only except Cormyrean coinage, however."

   Satisfied, Hakam signed his name on the line in the man's book as representative for the rest of the group. Two of the soldiers then went to each of them and tied a sort of bow with a cloth ribbon through their scabbards and over the hilts of their weapons. It seemed a mostly symbolic gesture; the ties were loose. It certainly would not slow Kytharrah in the slightest from drawing his greataxe or guisarme from his back.

   "Unless you have further questions, shall we lead you to the Royal Court?"

   "I forgot to ask, but what are the docking fees?"

   "Two golden lions per berth," said the man. "You can pay across the street at the dockmaster's."

   They paid the dockmaster, a bearded man with a patch over his eye. (It was a pleasant change to not also have to pay an exorbitant air tax.)

   They bid the guard at the station farewell. "Remember," he said, "if you decide that you wish to obtain a charter, you would request to speak with the High Warden."

   "Follow me please," said the soldier who would guide them. He began leading them to the north.

   Jayce and Oma were with them, but Nargroth stayed on board the ship, helping to wash the sails and decks. Panther, Oma's cat, was proudly walking beside his mistress, tail up in the air as if he owned the street.

   The street widened and curved to the northeast as it left the docks district. The further they walked from the docks, the fancier the buildings began to get, which was no surprise.

   "This is the first city that I have been in since home," said Sofi to Szordrin, who was walking beside her. "Sigil was much, much more crowded. I think it also odd how you cannot see the whole city at the same time, since it is flat." (The city of Sigil was famously built on the inside of a torus; one could look up and see almost all of it at once.)

   Before he could respond, she quickly changed the topic, upon noticing some peasant women staring at their ragtag group and assuming that it was her horns that were the most noticeable. "Szordrin, do you think that I should cover my head?"

   "No, this looks good," he said. Ferry also nodded.

   She blushed and looked away, but she followed his advice.

   They made a right at a wide street and then a left to go north. The streets were much busier here, as citizens were busy buying and selling at the many shops now lining both sides of the road.

   Of particular interest, they noticed one shop on the left with a sign with the image of a bunch of coins in a circle. Outside the shop was a man hawking his wares, which were clearly pawned items. As they passed by, a man came up carrying what seemed to be a golden hoe to hock or sell.

   "We might be able to sell that leucrotta skeleton to that one," offered Belvin, who walked at the back of line with his friend Leokas. Neither of the two elves were very fond of cities, to say the least.

   As they looked about at the city folk, they saw almost entirely humans among Suzail's populace, with a rare halfling or half-elf in the mix.

   The Purple Dragon's description of the current fashion style was accurate. The men wore capitano hats with feathers. They were dressed in loose, white cotton shirts with belled sleeves and lace collars and cuffs, knee-length breeches, and bucket-top boots. Most seemed to wear two belts. One seemed to be for holding up the pants; the other hung at an angle from the hips and seemed to be for holding a scabbard and various pouches.

   The fashion among the women was slightly more varied. Most women of middle class also wore hats, some of them of the same style as the men, but also many other kinds. Their clothing was a bodice over a white cotton chemise, with or without sleeves. They wore split skirts to show their frilled petticoats beneath. Some of the women were wearing purple scarves in various ways.

   Upon seeing an attractive young woman walking by with such a scarf, Jayce elbowed Oma and said to her, "Are you not forgetting to wear your purple scarf?"

   "What are you talking about?"

   "Do you not know? In Cormyr, it is the custom for young and desperate single women to wear a purple scarf to signal that they are available."

   She groaned and ignored him.

   "Maybe I should replace my towel with a purple one," said Sofi.

   Cats were everywhere, on the roofs, chasing each other across the streets, sunning themselves on tables and benches. Kytharrah almost stepped on two by accident. The stench of cat was overwhelming to his nose, but stronger still was the smell of dung coming from several wagons that horses were pulling along, led by poor peasants.

   Besides the cats and dung wagons, the city seemed quite clean. It was not, however, a particularly beautiful city, at least on the whole. It certainly paled in comparison to the beauty of Silverymoon, having none of that city's elven influence.

   They did see evidence of damage and destruction in places. Some buildings had collapsed roofs or walls, and a few looked like they had caught on fire. When they passed one block where a quarter of the buildings had burned to the ground, Sofi gasped. "Those poor people!" Sad citizens were using pitchforks to pick through the rubble. She went over to them, took some coins or gems from her little mug that she always carried and offered it to them. When she came back to join them as they moved along, the mug was empty. Even after giving back half her share, she should have had more than what had been in the mug, and she wore no money pouch. Perhaps the rest was back at the ship.

   They came to a wide avenue, curving from northwest to northeast. This must have been the Promenade that they were told that they could not miss. On the north side of the Promenade was clearly the rich part of town. The buildings on the other side were made of stone and some even of marble, row houses that were tall and narrow, with stone-shingled roofs instead of wooden-shingled ones.

   Here they made a right. Up ahead, they saw the red-scaled body of a dragon, dead. It was surrounded by a temporary fence, and a group of Purple Dragons made sure that no citizens would cross the barrier. The dragon was not a particularly large one, but large enough to have damaged some nearby buildings south of the Promenade as it fell to the earth.

   The guard who was leading them had mostly been quiet, but now he spoke up, "Second dragon attack in a tenday. The War Wizards drove the first one away. This one they slew, but it destroyed some buildings in its fall."

   Before they passed the dragon's body, they saw what must be the Royal Court, a big complex of columned buildings connected by arched bridges. A few of the buildings even had glass, domed roofs. Behind all of these official government buildings, rising from atop a steep hill, stood a beautiful palace, like something from a children's book. It had towers and spires and turrets, balconies and elevated porches, archways and flying buttresses. This, no doubt, was the Royal Palace of Cormyr. The hill from which it rose into the sky was itself covered in flowers.

   The soldier led them between two thick pillars to the left and into a courtyard of the Royal Court. The courtyard had a black and white checkered floor and a flowing water fountain at the center. Buildings flanked the west and east sides of the courtyard, and a curved staircase on the north side led up onto a second, raised courtyard.

   He stopped and pointed to the steps leading up to a porch of the west building. "The building to your left is where you register. I believe that I will no longer be needed. Good day!"

   As the soldier returned to the Promenade, Solisar noted to the others, "I suspect that that man just now entering the building is a noble. His clothes are more ornate than we have seen."

   As they came up onto the porch, the two guards in purple tabards directed them. "Please enter through the right doors; exit through the left doors.

   They obeyed and entered the building, though Belvin and Leokas chose to remain outside in the courtyard and went and sat by the water fountain. Before entering, Kytharrah stopped to smell some flowers in a vase at the end of the porch.

   "What do you smell, Kytharrah?" asked Sofi.

   "Flowers," said the minotaur.

   "I love how every flower has its own unique smell." She entered the building.

   Kytharrah pressed his nose toward the flower again and then followed after her.

   Jayce and Hakam asked one of the guards if everyone had to be present to register or if one person could represent the entire group. They were told that one person would suffice.

   They were within a large, high-ceilinged hall, supported by a massive column in the center. About the column were comfortable-looking, white, cushioned benches. Marble tables were set about the room, upon which were set glass cups and pitchers of water. A fancy fireplace, not currently in use, was at the far end of the room by a series of tall and narrow windows. The stone walls and the western and eastern sides were ornately carved with the facade of columns. It seemed to be used as a waiting room, and several other citizens were sitting or standing waiting. The potential noble that Solisar had earlier spotted was now taking in the details of a hanging tapestry on the south wall. (The tapestry portrayed a group of armored nights... and some cats.) Next to the tapestry was an open doorway, then a standing guard, and then another open doorway. The northern wall only had a single wooden door, which was closed.

   Kytharrah was busy going around the entire hall and sniffing each of the flowers in the pots that were set about to decorate the room, when a man came from one of the two doors to the south. He was dressed like the typical middle-class man of the city, except that he wore no hat and about his torso was a blue doublet and a matching short cloak was about his shoulders. He approached Jayce and Hakam.

   "Welcome! Are you here to register your party?"

   "Yes," said Hakam, "we are here to register a party of adventurers, which includes arcane and divine casters."

   "This is the right place," said the official. "Do rest here. When we are ready for you, you will be called into the room to the right of that guard standing there." He pointed at the guard at the southern wall.

   The wait was about fifteen minutes, and then a guard came and reported that they were ready to be registered. Jayce and Hakam followed the guard into the room. There were two desks in the room; before one of which was standing a peasant discussing some legal matter with a clerk. They approached the open desk and were greeted. The guard took his post in the corner.

   "The cost for registering is 25 gold pieces. We accept any currency, as long as it is the standard weight for gold coins. The certificate of registration that you will receive is valid for one year in any of the cities of Cormyr, including Arabel, Eveningstar, Immersea, Marsember, Suzail, Thunderstone, Waymoot, and Wheloon. If you are ever stopped and questioned by members of the Purple Dragons or War Wizards, you will simply present the certificate." The man looked down at a thick open book and readied himself to begin marking in it with his pen. "First of all, I need to know the general spellcasting capabilities of all of your spellcasters."

   Jayce and Hakam answered this as best they could. "We have a cleric of the all-supreme god Anachtyr in all his grace and wisdom and judgment."

   The man paused in his scribbling and looked up, somewhat confused. "Do you mean a cleric of Tyr?"

   "Some may know him as Tyr, but that is a false representation," Hakam began, but Jayce cut him off and moved on to describe their summoner and incantatar.

   Once they had registered each of the magic-users, the official next asked, "Will you be moving on from here to other locales, or is Suzail your only destination?"

   "Most likely, only Suzail."

   "Noted. If this changes, simply return here, and we can modify the certificate. Now, what name do I put down for your group? This is optional, unless you plan to also acquire an adventurers' charter, but most groups prefer to have us record their group name. Otherwise, I can record each member's name individually."

   "Ombert calls us the Misfits," said Jayce to Hakam. "Shall we just go with that? I am not too fond of the name, but it is up to you. Most adventuring parties do have a name for themselves; we are the exception."

   "I would rather simply list all of us as individuals," said Hakam, and so he did. The man tried his best to keep up and transfer all of the names correctly.

   "Now, are you interested in obtaining an adventurers' charter to help the Kingdom of Cormyr in its defense against the currently raging dragons? Usually, charters cost 1,000 golden lions, but because of the current dragon crisis, the government of Cormyr has reduced the processing fee to only 500."

   "Alas, we are urgently needed elsewhere;" said Hakam. "This is but a quick visit to seek out information before we depart again."

   "What sort of information do you seek that is so unique to Cormyr?"

   "We are inquiring about a former ambassador. We believe that she was the Cormyrean ambassador to Wa, in Kara-Tur, though it might possibly be the opposite," said Hakam.

   "We came to Suzail to speak with someone from your diplomatic office," said Jayce.

   "You probably will want to speak with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, I suspect," said the clerk.

   "We can also provide approximate dates for when she served," said Hakam.

   "Oh, I am just a simple clerk," said the man. "I do not know anything about foreign affairs. I can put in a request for you to speak with the High Warden anyway. Normally, you would only need to speak with him to request a charter, but this may be a special case. It is his day in court, and he would certainly know more than I about to whom you should speak and how to arrange such a meeting."

   "We agree to meet with him then," said the cleric.

   "He has a busy docket today, but if you wait in the main hall, I can have you escorted to his chamber when he is ready to see you."

   Jayce paid the 25 gold-piece fee, and the clerk handed them a certificate sealed with the stamp of Azoun V and Regent Alusair.
This certificate establishes that the following individuals so listed below are known to the kingdom of Cormyr and have entered its borders lawfully and with peaceful intent
Hakamin Amdula of Calimshan, cleric justiciar of Anaktyr
Jayce of Lantan, bard of great fame
Solisar Kerith of Evermeet, loremaster and incantatar
Sordrin Dundragon of Mir, evoker
Belvin Boarcharger of the Chondalwood, archdruid
Leokas Dusktracker of the High Forest, ranger and archer without peer
Oma Elcatahras of Calimshan, summoner
Sofi of Sigil, ascetic companion
Kytharrah, minotaur bodyguard

whose travels shall take them to the cities of
Suzail
The aforesigned have agreed to abide by the laws of Cormyr and to abstain from profit-seeking measures so termed as "adventuring".


~~~~

It took an hour or two before they were summoned again. At least they had cold water to drink and soft benches upon which to sit.

   This time, the door on the northern wall was opened, and they were directed to wait within. This room was almost as large as the waiting hall. It had inverted curves at its two northern corners, and the arched ceiling was supported by three squared columns. Cushioned benches were placed along the walls and against the central column, and there were three long marble desks with chairs, two at the near wall and the other at the far wall. Purple carpets were rolled out on the floor and four chandeliers hung from chains. Tapestries of various knights slaying dragons with lances hung from the western and eastern walls.

   This time, everyone except for Leokas and Belvin entered the room to wait. "The High Warden will be with you shortly," said the guard who had opened the door for them. Then the door was closed behind them.

   "Do you feel that?" said Sofi. "There is a mental force in this room."

   All of them did feel it, with the exception of Oma. "What? What is it?" she asked.

   "A strong urge to speak only the truth," said Jayce. "A zone of truth, no doubt. It will prevent any of us from lying, but one can always simply refuse to answer a question."

   "You have much practice with such things, it seems," said Sofi.

   "Let me answer for everyone," said Hakam. "Do not trust your own words in this room."

   While they waited, Solisar examined the tapestries. His keen elven eyes noticed that some of the stones behind the one on the east wall were out of place. "There is a secret door in the wall behind this tapestry," he noted calmly to those nearby.

   After a few brief moments, the door opened again, and a young herald stepped into the room and stood to the side. "Guests to the Royal Court, prepare to bow before Dauneth Marliir, Lord High Marshall of the Purple Dragons and High Warden of the Eastern Marches of the Kingdom of Cormyr."

   The man who immediately entered was six-foot tall, slim, lanky, and bony. He was between 30 and 40 years of age with grey eyes and sandy hair. He was dressed in a Purple Dragon uniform, though one demonstrating much higher rank than any they had yet seen. From his back hung a greatsword, which was certainly too large for a man of his build to wield. The ring on one of his hands glowed with a magic aura to Solisar's eyes.

   They all bowed to him, except for Kytharrah, who gave more of a cursty, lowering his bulk but keeping from lowering his horns.

   Dauneth nodded in acknowledgement of their attempt to follow protocol and took a seat at one of the southern desks. The herald departed and closed the door behind him.

   "Welcome to Cormyr," said Lord Dauneth. "Are you here for an adventurers' charter?"

   "We are here as adventurers," said Hakam, "yet not for a charter. We are seeking information, and we hope that you can put us in touch with the proper authorities to gather this information."

   "I shall do my best. For what sort of information do you seek?"

   Hakam recounted a brief telling of the death of an ambassador from Cormyr to Wa, named Yunoko, around the Year of the Wanderer.

   "I do not know the name Yunoko," the High Marshall replied. "However, since the death of King Azoun IV two years ago, Wa has cancelled all foreign trade with us and recalled its ambassador. They do not seem willing to deal with the Steel Regent, the infant king's older aunt.

   "What time again did you say that she served in her role as ambassador?"

   "The Year of the Wanderer," answered Jayce, "which is the one thousand, three hundred thirty-eighth year of the Dalereckoning."

   Dauneth squinted his eyes as he did some quick math in his head. "Was that the year before the Year of the Weeping Moon?" he asked.

   "It was," said Jayce.

   "Ah, then I may know something," said Lord Dauneth. "About 60 or 70 years ago, during the reign of Rhigaerd II, Azoun IV's father, I know that the crown appointed the first ambassador to Wa, a Cormyrean explorer who had traveled to Kara-Tur along the Golden Way and spent nearly a decade there. I never met the man. He was well before my time, and I do not know the history of Cormyr's diplomatic relationships well enough to recall his name. We have many ambassadors. I only remember this much because I was born in the Year of the Weeping Moon, and when I grew up and was taught the significant events that happened in my birth year, one of them was that the ruler of Wa — I forget what title they go by — re-opened the borders of Wa, which had been closed for several years prior. I know this does not sound like a terribly significant event, but I grew up in the kind of snotty noble family that talked about everything political incessantly and believed in every consiracy theory out there. They seemed to think that this was significant, because this happened the year after the murder of the second ambassador to Wa, who was the daughter of a 'great adventurer'. I can only assume that this second ambassador was this daughter, presumably your Yunoko. I am sorry for this roundabout way to answer your question, but I have never been known for my conciseness."

   "Yes, this is likely the woman in question," said Hakam. "She was indeed murdered, and we are seeking more information about that murder."

   "Would you know of anyone who would have been alive at that time to whom we could speak?" asked Solisar.

   "To be honest, I have only lived in Suzail for about four years, so I do not know many people here myself. I am from the city of Arabel."

   "Oh, Arabel," said Jayce, "the city ruled by the famed adventuress Myrmeen Llal?"

   Hakam knew of Myrmeen Llal, for she was born in Calimshan, in Calimport. She was known for fighting against a mysterious cult infamous for kidnapping children and terrifying citizens, called the Night Parade. Many Calishites from other cities, Hakam included, considered the story nothing more than a ghost story with which to scare children into behaving, but supposedly this Calimport street urchin grew up to become first a noble of Cormyr and then an adventurer who came back to her homeland to defeat the Night Parade.

   Hakam kept his thoughts on the matter to himself, but Jayce shared his knowledge of Lady Llal openly. "She warred against the Night Parade. I know several fireside ballads about the terrors of the Night Parade, living nightmares that steal away children."

   "It is funny that you should mention Myrmeen," said Dauneth, just as Hakam was about to mention his opinion of the stories, "for she is none other than my mother-in-law." He looked at Hakam. "My wife is also from your country, is Calishite. She goes by Krystin, but that was obviously not her given name at birth; she was an orphan and does not know her true parentage. She was adopted by Lady Llal. And yes, Lady Llal rules Arabel.

   "Back to your original question, I have not lived here long, but there are certainly people who did live then and may even have known this Yunoko. I could send a message to see if a sage would be willing to speak with you about Wa and the history of our affairs with Wa, if you would like. Do you have any other information besides just this lead? May I ask why you interested in her murder? If she worked for Cormyr, it would be in Cormyr's best interest to know why people are now asking about her death decades after the fact. What is your intent?"

   "We are looking for her murderer," said Hakam, "and we believe that the same is also seeking to murder one of our party."

   "Do you have a motive, then, for why our ambassador was murdered?"

   Hakam described how Yunoko sought to protect the life of a mother and child from Wa who were being pursued by a rakshasa. "We believe that we need to find him before he can find us."

   Dauneth did not appear to fully grasp the information, but he seemed content with the answer nevertheless. "Rakshasas in Wa? The fiends with the tiger heads and backwards hands? Interesting. In any case, again, this is not my area of specialty, but I think that your intentions are true. I shall send for the proper sage to assist you. Perhaps we can determine someone who actually knew her or the events of her death. Foreign Affairs may have some records from that time period."

   He stood up from the desk. "Do you have any other need of my services?" he asked. "If not, I shall depart. You may wait here for the sage to arrive."

   "Her property records might also be of use to us," said Hakam. "We believe that some significant events may have occured on her vacation property."

   "Such would also be outside my area of expertise," said Dauneth, "but I can tell you that our ambassadors usually live in the foreign country where they serve if not in the embassy itself. As far as I know, the Cormyrean Embassy to Wa would still exist — unless they tore it down — though it would now be unoccupied. Surely, that is where she would have lived at least part of the time, but I could not even speculate where she would have chosen to spend her vacations. If you could take the nearly a year-long journey to Wa across the Golden Way that the merchants take, through the Hordelands into Kara-Tur, and over the eastern ocean, you would still have the whole island of Wa to search for a potential home. All I can do is send you a sage."
Session: 121st Game Session - Monday, Sep 28 2020 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
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Tags: Chapter 3 , Recap , Suzail
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 3 — Avilda
~ eighth-day, 18th of Flamerule, the Year of Rogue Dragons, 8 bells
Wildspace


The next morning, the Frihet left the Rock of Bral and headed toward Toril. Solisar had reminded them about the danger of returning to Toril without taking precautions against the dragons, but Ombert had explained that, before their last visit to Lantan, while the adventurers were searching for Onran's abode, he had shared the same fear. "Apparently, only a single dragon is known to live on the big island of Lantan," said the halfling captain. "We learned that this dragon, an ancient blue, thinks of the entire island nation as his hoard. He has spent the whole dragonrage paroling the seas around the islands of Lantan, ensuring that no other dragons come near his property. If anything, Lantan is thus one of the safest places on Toril to visit right now!"

   As the Frihet launched into spelljamming speed toward their home planet, Hakam approached Solisar, who was below deck in the wizard's lab that the elves of Evermeet had constructed for them.

   "May I speak with you in private, Solisar?"

   "Of course, good cleric," said Solisar.

   Hakam shut the door behind him and shared the results of the previous night's divination. "Is there an elven chameleon god in the history of your people?"

   Suddenly, Solisar flashed back to his visit to the human city of Silverymoon last Nightal. Just before he had met the most alluring Loremaster Rivermantle in the library-temple of Everdusk Hall, he had been examining the statue of a god to whom he had never paid much attention, Erevan Ilesere, the Trickster,... the Chameleon.

   "I do not know how I did not think of it earlier," said Solisar, "but there is indeed a god known as the Chameleon among the Seldarine, Erevan Ilesere. He is the god of trickery, not evil, but one representing the more... playful tendencies of elfkind. Though perhaps one of its least popular members among the elves of my own people, he is respected somewhat by the green elves, who are Belvin's kin."

   Upon hearing Solisar's answer, Hakam's own memory was triggered. "Erevan? Is that not the name of the god whom Jayce nominally follows?"

   Solisar did not know the answer to Hakam's question, as he did not know Jayce very well, but Hakam did not need the answer; he knew that it was true.

   Jayce was a relatively irreligious human, but he had told a strange story of receiving healing for his injured leg as a child from a passing elven priest of Erevan, who also left him with a mysterious tattoo. Later in their adventurers together, but before the time that Solisar had joined them, they were joined briefly by a roguish fellow named Mick. Mick also bore a similar tattoo, which he had also received from a cleric of Erevan in his youth. The tattoos magically glowed when near each other and in fact caused pain to either man if they drew far apart after meeting. It was not until several months later that they learned that the two tattoos were the two halves of a map of an ancient temple of Ubtao in the jungle of Chult, a temple that ultimately led them to Samber.

   Connections were formed in Hakam's mind regarding Yashiera's prophecy that had hitherto evaded him, and he smiled with understanding.

   He again discussed with Solisar the prophecy. "So, Thard Harr, Erevan, and Ubtao are allied, and they do not see the 'dark cloud approaching from beyond them.' What is the pool into which they are gazing? A portal? And what is this dark cloud?"

   "The Shadovar could be the dark cloud, potentially," said the elf.

   "They have a dark cloud around their digging site; that is true."

   "Or the dark cloud is their goddess."

   Hakam nodded at the grim thought. He also remembered his brief time as a captive of the Shadovar cleric Chalan. He wondered if revisiting his conversation with her then might lead to new insights. He thanked Solisar for the helpful conversation and returned to his quarters.

   Meanwhile, above deck, Sofi approached Szordrin as he was standing alone gazing down at Toril. They were in orbit around the dark side of the planet, as Ombert tried to spot where to drop down into the atmosphere for the most direct approach to the tiny islands of Lantan.

   "May I ask you a question? You seem deep in thought."

   "Yes, of course," he replied.

   "You seem very intent on quickly tracking down this rakshasa cutter," she said. "What motivates this? Do you desire revenge? Is it to provide for your own safety? What is driving you on this quest?"

   "Both," said Szordrin. "It started out for revenge, but now it seems like my own life may depend on it. Onran may not have simply been murdered; he may have intentionally given up his life to save mine, so it is even more important."

   "Do you think that revenge will make you feel any better?"

   "Yes, I presume so," he said, but his voice lacked confidence. "We can only know when it is done."

   She nodded. It looked like she had something else to say, but whatever it was she kept to herself.

   "Do you think that the stars are beautiful?" she then asked.

   He looked at her, and she was staring off at the endless number of bright points in crystal sphere of Realmspace. "Yes," he answered, though without the awe that had been in her voice when she asked.

   "You never saw the stars growing up, did you? You lived underground."

   "That is true, but Onran taught me the beauty of the stars and explained how they revolved around Toril and the sun. So, I gained a great appreciation for them long before I ever saw them with my own eyes from the Forest of Mir."

   "I, too, never saw stars as a girl. Sigil has no stars, nor a sun nor a moon. The same is true of the Outlands. It was not until we exited the Astral Plane and entered the wildspace of the Prime that I first gazed upon them. Their beauty left me speechless. I only had a few minutes to take in their beauty, for we entered the clouds of Coliar after that, and, as you know, the sky of Coliar is only white, gray, or black." She sighed. "They are wonderful to me."

   Szordrin let her enjoy the view but remained by her side. Shortly, sunlight burst around Toril's orb, and the stars faded. Szordrin asked her a question. "Now that you are coming with us, what do you hope to gain from this journey?"

   "I am hoping to scan who I really am and who Pistis Sophia wants me to be. Maybe it is woven into your story; maybe it is not. It is too early to say."

   "Do you have any idea how long you wish to travel with us?"

   "As long as you will have me or until it is clear where I am supposed to go next." She paused. "Tumble to this, I have literally given up everything that I own in life to follow Pistis Sophia. It is just me and my mug." She held it up for him and smiled. "That is all."

   They were descending now rapidly and burst through the clouds. Sofi's red eyes widened with excitement upon seeing the blue ocean for the first time. "Is that water?"

   "It is," said Szordrin.

   She giggled with glee.

   Szordrin said, "I heard about the incident with you and Brad. Your response was fully justified and should keep him from bothering you again."

   "Is he that way with most women?"

   "They are all like that, these sailors," said Szordrin.

~~~~

To the crew of the Frihet, as well as Oma, Jayce, and Hakam, the island of Suj was a familiar place, but for the remaining adventurers, a visit to Lantan was anticipated with interest. What strange, gnome-filled, remote island produced such bizarre clockwork toys as the ones that they had been selling on the Rock of Bral? They, of course, had been told a little about the place, but it was always different to experience a new land with one's own eyes.

   The fact that they were able to visit at all was mainly because of Jayce and Captain Ombert. When Hakam had visited the island, he had done so under cover of darkness and took his rowboat to shore distant from the actual port. Lantan was known to have a fear of visitors and, in fact, surrounded their entire island nation with smokepowder sea mines. Too many people would want to steal their advanced technology, the natives thought, after having visited. (In truth, most of the people of Faerûn found the Lantanese too strange to want to conquer their island.) Ombert and Jayce had convinced the right people to grant them access to Dtakkar, one of the port towns of Suj, the smaller of Lantan's two main islands. They had landed the spelljammer within the mile radius of the island, safe from the floating bombs, and now flew an official merchant flag allowing them to sail into the port.

   Lantan was a tropical island nation, built on what once were volcanic islands. The low mountains could be seen in the east, but they were approaching a flatter peninsula. Everywhere they looked was covered with jungle, but unlike Chult or Coliar, a constant cloud of steam was rising from several places, a sign of civilization and, more specifically, of the toy factories for which Dtakkar in particular was known.

   The port was not a large one, as Dtakkar was not a large town. In fact, there was only a single dock. Some sort of obnoxious gnomish contraption rose from the water and acted as a crane to offload shipping goods onto a wooden platform with a ramp higher up to the town itself. The ramp, they soon realized, was a moving one; the planks were attached to a belt, which was pulled by gears. A single other ship was in port when they arrived. Bansh noted that this ship was lanteen-rigged. It had a single triangular sail that was maroon-colored. They observed the crane unloading the boat and then watched the moving ramp carry crates from the dock up to the aerial town.

   Dtakkar, like most settlements of Lantan was built some fifteen feet above the ground on metal stilts and platforms. Homes with little turreted towers were the primary form of architecture here, and they were connected by an inter-web of wooden boardwalks and bridges spanning from one structure to another. They did not see many people about, but the evidence of the bustling population was heard in the sound of clanking metal, sounding horns, whistling pipes, and grinding gears. Those they did see seemed to dress in loose robes. Men and women each wore wide rimmed hats to keep the sun out of their eyes, and they seemed to favor the color yellow, as a good six in ten persons had the color somewhere on their clothing.

   They docked, and a small group of them disembarked. Jayce remembered exactly where to lead them. They soon found themselves at the front door of a small house but one still large enough to have its own little corner turret with pointed metal roof, painted red, which reminded some of them of the pointed hats that gnomes often wore. (Given the high population of gnomes here, they wondered if this connection was intended. Jayce had also always wondered if the gnomes wore the hats so as not to be run over by the taller humans.)

   Before knocking, Szordrin prepared himself with magic to read minds.

   After knocking, they waited a minute before the door opened. "Who are you?" asked the man, in Lantanna. Only Szordin, Solisar, and Jayce understood the words, but the meaning was clear enough to everyone. It was not a friendly question. The man who asked it had probably seen six or seven decades. His hair was thin and white. He had a mustache and was probably handsome in his youth.

   "We were hoping that we could speak with the lady Avilda," said Jayce, whom they had requested to do most of the talking for them. He spoke in his native language to the man.

   "What do ye want with my wife?" asked the man in strongly accented Common, once he saw that the group included so many foreigners. Then he recognized Jayce. "I know who you are! You are that man who did my wife hassle several months ago about her ex-husband. You talked with her enough. She does not want remember him anymore. Leave us alone." He began to close the door. Szordrin knew that the man's thoughts mirrored his spoken words. When are these people going to leave my poor wife alone? She does not want to remember that jerk. This is rude. What business do they have bothering our peace.

   "This is not about your wife;" said Hakam, "it is about Yunoko."

   The man stared at the short, dusky-skinned man in banded armor and a tunic, and appeared exceptionally confused. "I do not know what 'yunoko' is!"

   "Good sir," Jayce began in the Lantanese tongue, "I recognize how socially inappropriate it is for us to return again. You are a good husband, wanting to protect your wife, and I respect that. If you wish us to leave, we will agree to your wishes, but please hear me for just thirty more seconds of your time. As you know, her ex-husband was not just a bad husband, he was a disturbed man. Unfortunately, he has caused harm to more persons than only your wife. His actions could have repercussions that affect happenings on multiple worlds, not only your family. We would not be here if we did not think that the information your wife may hold may be crucial to our ending Samber's destructive and aberrant actions forever. If you permit us ask her but a few questions, I give you my word as a fellow Latanna that we shall never bother you again, and your wife will not only be able to leave Samber forever in the past but also know that she helped protect Faerûn from potential great harm."

   The man paused and thought. Well, there is no doubt that he is a true Lantanna; I can take him at his word. He is not lying to me; he will leave us alone after this. Maybe if five more minutes with my wife will save the world.... He spoke again in Common. "If she will agree to it, ye may ask us both your questions, but ye take longer than five minutes or ye cause her a tear shed, I will toss through the window your skinny body."

   Jayce was not a particularly heavy human, to say the least; he was built like a pole. Nevertheless, Avilda's husband was even thinner. Even so, the man's tone sounded like he literally intended to attempt to throw Jayce if they tarried to long, and Szordrin knew that he was visualizing doing so in his mind's eye as he made the threat.

   "Play?" asked Kytharrah, but he was quickly quieted by the others.

   "As soon as she is ready," said Jayce, "we will get right to our questions. Shall we stand here?"

   "I shall get her." The man closed the door on them.

   Szordrin whispered some words to Ferry while the man was retrieving his wife, and Ferry nodded.

   When the door opened again, despite having been warned in advanced by their bard, they were still all taken aback. The woman before them, except for her pale skin and white hair, looked like Ilthian's older sibling.

   Kytharrah might have been confused by this, except that she smelled nothing like Ilthian. (In fact, he had noticed before that Ilthian had no smell at all.)

   Avilda looked nervous, particularly upon seeing a minotaur. She clung to her husband. Kytharrah gave her the friendliest puppy look that he could.

   "Do not fear him," said Jayce. "He is harmless, like a pet dog really."

   "He is like a young child," said Sofi. "I assure you that he is safe." Sofi stroked the fur on his bulky arm to demonstrate.

   "I thought that I answered you your questions already," said Avilda in a very thick Lantanese accent. "What more do ye want?"

   "We have further questions," said Hakam, "not about Samber but about a woman we believe that you knew as well, Yunoko."

   Szordrin felt what might be described as a mental sigh coming from the Lantanese woman's mind, as if it were exhausting to think back on old memories. He saw flashing through her mind the blurry images of men and women dressed in their fanciest clothing, smiling, dancing, and eating at what he soon realized was a wedding. A woman in a beautiful white kimono approached Avilda in her memory.

   "I was not actually friends with Yunoko," said Avilda. "She was a friendly enough lass, but I only her met twice, first be at her wedding, second be at mine."

   "Can you tell us anything about the manner of her death?" asked Hakam, wasting no time.

   "I only knew that she had died because I heard it from my ex-husband. He received a letter. We were told that there would be no funeral."

   "Why not?" asked Szordrin.

   "Samber never went into details, but Onran said that there could not be a funeral."

   "Did you know Master... Onran well?" asked Szordrin.

   "Like Yunoko, I did not know well him. I met him a few more times than Yunoko, as he was my ex-husband's best childhood friend. As far as I know, he moved away from Lantan with his gnomish family as a young ladd. Occasionally, he would come back and Samber visit. We went to their wedding; they came to ours. Samber and he corresponded frequently, but I did not know well him. He seemed a nice enough ladd, but I thought that my husband be nice at the time as well."

   "Do you recall whom she spoke to the most at her wedding?" asked Hakam.

   "I know not how that answer," said Avilda. "Yunoko was half-Wanese, half-Cormyrean. Her father's family was there, dressed in Cormyrean garb. Her mother's family was dressed in those Wanese robes that they all wear." Szordin caught glimpses of the scene in her mind as she spoke.

   "Do you know how they met, Onran and Yunoko?" asked Szordrin.

   She shook her head.

   "Do you know anyone else to whom we could speak who knew either Onran or Yunoko?" asked Solisar. "Anyone whom you met at the wedding?"

   "We were the only Lantanna at their wedding," said Avilda. "I spoke with Yunoko for long at the wedding. She was very easy talk with, and I no one else knew. She was a very kind woman and was friendly to me because so out of place I was." Again, Szordrin saw the briefest images of Yunoko as she spoke to Avilda at the wedding, and he felt strong emotions of not belonging among the rich nobles.

   "Where was their wedding?" asked Hakam.

   "It was in Suzail, in Cormyr," she said.

   "Do you know where they lived?" asked Hakam.

   "They lived in Wa," she said.

   "Do you know if they had any vacation homes?"

   "I do not know where they a vacation home built themselves, but when the second time I met her, says she, how much she loved her honeymoon. Says she, they spent most of it swimming naked and free together and alone on some other world. I did not know what she was saying; I just had a smile on me and my head nodded. Says she, the place was beautiful, full of water, clear as glass."

   "Can you provide any more specifics about either their wedding venue or their home in Wa?"

   "I at their home in Wa never be, but the wedding was at a fancy place, some place official like. There was a black, dragon-shaped throne in the back of the room, with many tapestries."

   Avilda's husband finally interjected. "Ye promised five minutes. It has been that long. The time is up. Leave us be now."

   "I thank you kindly for your information," said Solisar.

   The man and woman returned into their home and left the adventurers outside.

   "I think that we need to visit Cormyr next," suggested Hakam. "That seems to be where most of the remaining threads lie."

~~~~


With Oma at the helm, the Frihet rose from the waters around Lantan and took to the sky. Solisar had her take the ship clear into orbit. There were not many clouds in the sky this day, and he hoped that they would be able to spot the Sea of Falling Stars, upon which borders the nation of Cormyr rested, from wildspace, thus avoiding any danger posed by the raging dragons. At spelljamming speeds, they should be able to place themselves over the waters in nearly no time at all; however, it would be two hours later in the day at that latitude, and it would take some time to both ascend and descend.

   As they climbed higher and higher in elevation, Hakam readied a spell to complete one further task, communication with Chief Grak, or "Captain Stubs". Since Samber had taken back Ilthian and also apparently stolen the sea charts from Ombert before that, they feared that Samber might also try to take his sailing vessel back from the goblinoids who had used it to escape his island.

   "Remember us? We saved you from the bone devil. We are looking to return to the island. Could you tell us how to navigate back?"

   Hakam waited for a few moments and then heard the gruff voice of Captain Grak in his mind. "Ahoy! This be Cap'n Stubs! Still no arms or legs, but otherwise alive! In the Nelanther now. Maybe I can help. Goonya begs me thank...."

   Hakam asked Jayce what "in the Nelanther" would mean.

   "The Nelanther Islands," answered the bard, "pirate islands and uninhabited desert isles. Hundreds of them. Most do not even have potable water. We shall be flying directly over them on the way to Cormyr, though I am sure we will not be able to spot them from as high as we will be. They are non-human, non-demihuman humanoids mostly. Not the sort of place good folk would want to visit. Great place to hide though!"

   "Should we stop there on the way then?" asked Leokas.

   "We are not ready to stop Samber directly," said Solisar, "so I see no need to learn this information now."

   "I agree," said Hakam, "but having the knowledge in hand may be better, if he is seeking out his missing vessel."

   He paused and then spoke again. "However, we do not know on which of the hundred islands Grak resides, and I do not have the magic of another sending ready for this day. It shall have to wait."

   They passed out of the gravity well of Toril and felt the usual mild jolt. Ombert gave the order to jump, and the magic of spelljamming launched them hundreds of miles to the northeast in seconds. In 40 minutes, they would splash down in the Sea of Fallen Stars and begin sailing to the great Kingdom of Cormyr.
Session: 120th Game Session - Monday, Aug 31 2020 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
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Tags: Chapter 3 , Lantan , Recap
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 3 — The Shou Embassy of Bral
~ sixth-day, 16th of Flamerule, the Year of Rogue Dragons, 6 bells
Middle City, Bral


The ship bell rang six times, and Belvin snapped out of his trance. Jayce and Oma had learned to roll the ship as they traveled through wildspace at spelljamming speeds, to simulate the day cycle by using the ship's keel to block the sunlight and keep them in shadow at "night". With the sixth bell, the bard rolled the ship clockwise, so that the sun appeared now on the starboard side. Belvin did not need this gesture as much as the humans on board. Hearing the bell from within his spiritual visit to the Feywild was enough for him to come to full consciousness. As they were back to a 24-hour schedule, it was time for his prayers to Thar Harr.

   He was snuggled, of course, against his camel, who was sleeping in the small pen at the center of the main deck behind the mainmast, next to Leokas' horse, Cloud. He looked about as he stood up and stretched. The halfling boatswain, Niff, was behind him on the aftcastle deck at the wheel. Bansh, the hadozee, Gullbeak, the gnome, and Patrik and Diero, two humans, were manning the decks and sails. The only other person on the deck was Sofi, the monk that they had taken with them from Coliar. She did not seem to sleep as much as the other humans, though he knew that she was not entirely human, not that her curled horns kept that a secret from anyone.

   She heard him stir and turned from where she was standing at the port rail.

   Always inquisitive, she asked him about what happened when elves tranced. His answer was brief, but he explained to her about how it was a way for elves to revisit the memories of past lives.

   "Is it like dreaming?"

   "It is more vivid, more real, than that," he said.

   Not one for long conversations, he turned from her and knelt by his camel to offer prayers in the Druidic tongue.

   She watched him silently but intently, which might have bothered some, but Belvin felt no such discomfort and ignored her until his prayers were finished. He rose to his feet again, as he felt the divine power of nature fill his person.

   Sofi had talked with Hakam for many hours about Anachtyr and the faith of that church, but she had not yet queried Belvin about his deity.

   "Why do you worship a dwarven god?" she asked rather bluntly.

   Ilthian, the woman created by Samber, had also asked many questions, but while both women were curious, Ilthian was far more naive, and Belvin was beginning to sense that Sofi's questions were less about the topic at hand and more about the person to whom she was asking the question.

   It was a question that Belvin had been asked many times since he had chosen to follow the strange dwarven god, rejecting the patronage of Rillifane Rallathil the Leaflord, the god most often worshiped by his forest kin.

   He gave the same sort of answer that he always gave. "It just happened," he said, and then he turned his attention to grooming Kamil.

   She wandered off to watch the sailors and began a conversation with Bansh about the gods of his people.

~~~~

The 150-million-mile journey ended at the second ringing of twelve bells. It was now the 17th of Flamerule. Summer on Toril was nearly half over.

   The journey back was mostly without incident, with one notable exception. The men of the ship were at first delighted to have another woman on board. Sofi had been spending a lot of time with Jayce, listening to his stories and songs, and laughing at them along with the sailors. One of the sailors, Brad, drastically misinterpreted one of her laughs as a sign of romantic interest and foolishly thought this would warrant permission to give her backside a playful squeeze. She almost broke his arm. (Kytharrah was impressed and fascinated by how lightning fast she had grabbed Brad's arm!) That was the last time that any of the sailors tried flirting with her.

   Oma was at the helm this time when the ship came in to the asteroid city, and she guided the vessel into position without any difficulty.

   The Bral docks were just as busy at night as they were during the day. The population of nocturnal creatures living in the Low City was high enough that businesses in that district never closed. Nevertheless, the bodies of most of the adventurers were still struggling from the switch from 30-hour days to 24-hour days, and many wanted to find inns or other boarding to sleep off the jammlag in an actual bed instead of a hammock. (On the Frihet, only Captain Ombert and first mate Loreene had beds.) They agreed to meet at a tavern in the Middle City at nine bells and went their separate ways. Hakam went to stay at the Pantheist Temple of Tyr, while most of the others went to find an inn. Sofi, however, asked to stay on board the Frihet. She did not have money to spend on a room, nor did she think it fitting to sleep in a bed, when the spot on the hardwood floor in Loreene and Oma's room was more than enough for her needs.

   The morning came, and the adventurers sat at a table in the tavern and made plans for the day. The first goal was to sell the metal eggs that they had recovered after the fight with the so-called marauders in the gem mine.

   They went about the town asking around. It took Jayce two hours to find someone, a rare animal keeper, who knew exactly what the eggs were, lonestone marauders. However, he informed the bard that no one sold large animals on the Rock, because there was little space to keep them, and they ate too much and breathed too much of the precious air. Thus, the keeper was not interested in purchasing them.

   However, the man did suggest that they try at the Lesser Market. They all were very familiar with the Great Market. It was where the shop of the Count of Tethyr, Gamalon, was located, and they had already purchased things there in the past. The Office of the Middle Magistrate was there, which Hakam had also visited. The Lesser Market, in contrast, was Bral's alternative market. More honestly said, it was the center of Bral's illegal trade.

   "What do you think about selling these at the Lesser Market," Jayce asked Hakam.

   "The operation of the market itself is not illegal, is it?" Hakam replied. "If we are to sell legally acquired goods there, which we have, then we are guilty of no crime. These are living items; we should be rid of them as quickly as possible."

   So, Jayce, Oma, Hakam, and Szordrin headed down into the Low City to try and off the eggs onto someone. It took another couple hours of walking about the crowded plaza calling out that they had rare, valuable eggs, before they found someone who indeed was very interested. It was a gnomish fellow, with wild hair and eyebrows and his long beard split into two separate spikes. He was willing to pay 1,600 gold pieces per egg. Szordrin and Jayce were convinced that one could make as much as 4,000 per egg. They were able to talk the gnome up to 2,400 but no further. Hakam was eager to get rid of them, so they accepted this final offer.

   Back at the tavern, over a late lunch. Jayce sat down and calculated everyone's share of the cash. He handed a platinum trade bar and five gold trade bars to everyone involved in the battle against the marauders, except for Oma, who received half that amount.

   "I have never seen so much money in my life!" exclaimed Sofi.

   "Why do Sofi and Nargroth receive a full share and I only receive a half share?" asked Oma.

   "It is in your contract," said Jayce, "and Nargroth and Sofi do not have contracts."

   "I can share some of mine with you, Oma," said Nargroth.

   "So, having a contract is worse than not having one," said Oma, ignoring or not hearing the offer. "How is that fair?"

   "Both Nargroth and Sofi have more skill at adventuring than you," said Jayce.

   "Did Nargroth or Sofi, oh, I do not know, say, summon undead ogres from another planet in Realmspace through another plane of existence and compel them to fight for us? And I have been adventuring for almost a year now; Sofi has had exactly two battles with us! Please feel no offense, Sofi."

   "No, you are correct," answered Sofi. She then spoke to Jayce. "If Oma gets only half a share, than I only get half a share. Redistribute it." She slid her trade bars back across the table.

   While Jayce did so, Szordrin discovered that someone in the Lesser Market must have pickpocketed him; he was short nine gold pieces. (Szordrin was simultaneously embarrassed and in awe at this ordeal, but nine gold was not a great loss at this point in his adventuring career.)

~~~~

After lunch, some of them went shopping. The casters purchased spell components for their new spells or prayers. In particular, Hakam acquired a set of platinum rings, which he explained could be used to protect others in the party with divine protection if he so prayed over them. Szordrin acquired some pearls with which to identify some of their recently acquired magical goods, particularly the unknown potions.

   In the meantime, Jayce went on an errand to find out if anyone on the Rock might remember the young Samber and Onran when they had visited some number of decades ago. He was gone for three hours. When he returned, he had a huge grin on his face. "I am the greatest," he said. "I found us someone who met 'Ronan and Ramseb'."

   After he sat down, Jayce happily explained how he had found the information. "I suspected that if I was to learn about two wizards who visited the Rock when younger, I would need to talk to someone who both has lived on the Rock for a long time and has interacted with wizards.

   "The first name that I came up with was Gamalon, but as you know, he has retired from keeping shop and gone on to become a count of Tethyr. However, his shop is still here, of course, on the starboard side of the Great Market. So, I talked to the new shopkeeper that Count Gamalon had hired to run the place in his absence.

   "I learned that Gamalon moved to the Rock in the Year of the Striking Falcon, which was 40 years ago. He left the Rock to move back to Tethyr during the Reclamation Wars about six years ago. Samber and Onran definitely would have come to the Rock in that time. Apparently, Gamalon was an adventurer on Toril before he came to the Rock, and one of his adventuring companions was a dwarf named Gyudd. Gyudd also came to the Rock and opened a shop, Cap'n Gyudd's, over on the border of the Dwarven District on the leading edge. The two used to send potential customers to each other. Cap'n Gyudd still lives here, so that was where I headed next.

   "Before I entered the shop, I asked around a bit about Gyudd himself to see if I could learn how I might get on his good side. I learned from the local dwarven bars that Gyudd was known to love beer more than women and that he smoked a great deal of tobacco, despite smoking being illegal here. I simply entered his store with my pipe out and asked for recommendations on some pipe weed and got him talking. I said that I would buy him a beer to thank him, and so we walked across the street to his favorite pub, and I got him talking.

   "The Cap'n had an ivory peg leg and hair that matched. He told me some wonderful stories of his days as an adventurer — clearly exaggerations — and his true feelings about tourists. When it was clear that he had a superb memory for an elderly dwarf, I asked him about Ronan and Rembas and described each of the men.

   "'I know just who ya mean,' he said. 'Young depressin' fella with hair the color of a carrot an' a friendly chap with golden eyes an' silver hair, probably one o' those angel-descended folk. I can't tell ya humans' ages well, but they looked barely men. That was in the Year o' the Behir. I remember because it was the same year that Clan Battlehammer saved a town in Icewind Dale on Toril, an' I had a young cousin who fought in the battle against the goblins.'

   "The Year of the Behir was 1342 in the Dalereckoning," Jayce said. Then he returned to Cap'n Gyudd's story. "'They came into Ol' Gemhead's shop one day, while I was sharing a beer at close o' day with me friend. We were talkin' about happenin's down on Toril. The silver-haired one explained that his parents had frequented Gemhead's shop when he was a boy, and he wondered if Gemhead sold anythin' useful for planewalkin'. Old Gemhead says, "Nay, but ya might want to visit the Interlink Consortium o'er on the port side, as they sell just those sorts o' things ya might need." That's all I remember. I'm not sure that their names were whatever ya just said, but they both started with the same letter; I remember that much.'"

   "Gyudd said that you were welcome to come ask him more questions, but he really did not think he had anything more to add."

   "So," said Hakam, "we have a year and a place."

   It was getting late in the day, being about five bells in the afternoon, and they had one more place that they wanted to visit for information, an embassy of Wa. They had certainly seen some people on Bral that they suspected to be Wanese, but as all of them were from the western side of Toril (or below the surface), none was particularly good at telling anyone from Kara-Tur apart. After asking around, they learned that Wa had no embassy on Bral. Nevertheless, they decided to visit instead the Shou Embassy, hoping to learn something about Wa through its neighbor, the Empire of Shou Lung.

   They had passed the Shou Embassy many times during their time on Bral. It was the impressive building with the lung dragon and bronze foo lion sculptures on Dock Street next to the colored archway to Shou-Town. Hakam, Jayce, Szordrin, and Solisar took this errand and approached the guards wearing horned helmets and red, distorted demon masks.

   The guards did not even acknowledge the visitors; they stood as still as statues.

   "Are we permitted to enter," Hakam asked them, "or must we make an appointment."

   There was no response.

   Szordrin, by means of his language magic, repeated Hakam's question in High Shou. There was still no response. He wished that he had prepared the ability to detect thoughts that morning.

   The main door to the embassy, an ornate wooded gateway, was wide open, so Hakam carefully passed the guards. They did not respond, so he kept on up the steps and the others followed him.

   The interior of the building was beautiful. The floors were wood-paneled, with different colors of wood and fancy designs in the corners. Even the simplest elements of the construction were artistically done.

   A woman was standing in the hallway. She had jet black hair piled high on her head and supported with pins. She was dressed in a narrow dress of bright-colored silks. The skirt nearly brushed the floor and had two slits running up to her hips. The tight bodice had a high collar. The dress was embroidered with golden thread in the shapes of dragons. On her feet were a pair of white slippers.

   "Welcome to the Embassy of Kai Tsao Shou Chin to the City of Bral," she said. Her utterance was monosyllabic but otherwise crisp, perfect Common. She gave a slight bow with her hands together. "How may we be of assistance?"

   Hakam said, "We have some questions about events that may have occurred in the Wa empire, and we were hoping that your embassy might be able to help us to learn more about them."

   "Would you be so kind to follow me?" said the woman. "I shall have tea brought for you while I summon one of the clerks of Lord Chan Fu Wi of the Ministry of State. He may be able to answer your questions."

   She led them to a small room through a red door frame with no door. There were ornate chairs and side tables made of multiple colors of wood. Movable, folding screens divided up the room into smaller segments. These wooden screen panels were decorated with images of flowers and trees.

   A tray with assorted teas was brought out for them by another woman wearing a similar form-fitting dress but in less vivid colors. It was set on one of the side tables. The teas were delightful to sample.

   Shortly, a man came in wearing a long tunic reaching almost to the floor. Like the woman's dress, it was made from silk. It had buttons from the floor all the way up to the high collar. This person also wore slippers.

   The man spoke with flawless Common. "I greet you. My name is Kuang Ch'ung, Minor Clerk of Lord Chan Fu Wi of the Ministry of State of the Empire of Shou Lung. How may I be of service?"

   Hakam repeated his earlier request. "We have some questions about events that may have occurred in the empire of Wa. We hope to hear your perspective or that you can point us to people who might tell us more."

   "I shall help in the best way that I can," said Ch'ung. "Do you have any specific questions?"

   "Our particular question regards the assassination of one Emperor Goshukara Kando. We have learned evidence that he may have been an imposter, a fiend taking human form, a rakshasa. Do your people know anything of this?"

   Ch'ung nodded. "It is true that emperors are sometimes assassinated. The most recent assassination in Wa, I believe, occurred nearly a century ago. I do not know the details of it, however. You must understand that the modern emperors in Wa are very weak. The true power in Wa lies in the hands of the shoguns, the military commanders. The emperor is only a puppet to the shogun. It has been this way for centuries."

   "Is the current emperor descended from this Goshukara Kando?" asked Hakam.

   "Presumably. The imperial line is kept mostly as a symbol of earlier times. The nation of Wa has only had one 'ruling' dynasty since the the 833rd year of our calendar, which was almost 2,000 years ago."

   "Dynasties can have branches, can they not?" asked Hakam.

   "True," said the clerk, "but I do not know the details well enough to give you the complete genealogy from Kando. It is also news to my ears and to the ears of Shou Lung that Kando may have been an imposter, as you say."

   After a slight pause, Ch'ung also said, "You should know, Wa and Shou Lung have a tenuous relationship. In centuries past there was open warfare. For a time, the Emperor of Shou Lung even controlled the island of Wa. It was not until the 12th Emperor Chin of the Kao Dynasty declared the Unleashing of Shackles that Wa was granted permission to exist as an independent state. This was over a thousand years ago, yet memories go deep. At that time, the emperor of Wa did have real power. It was in the last two or three centuries that Wa's shogunate rose to power."

   He continued. "Wa is an isolationist nation. They do have open ports with Shou Lung and even a community of Shou living in the city of Nakamaru in the north of the island, but they are still very cautious in letting the outside world know about what happens on their islands."

   "Are rakshasa common in the stories of your people?" asked Szordrin. "Or have they or any other fiends been known to try to infiltrate the government in your histories?"

   "'Rakshasa' is a Nubari word from the Malatran peninsula, a jungle land separate from either Kara-Tur or Faerûn. The rakshasa, while we know of their existence, do not play into many of the tales of Shou Lung. I am not an expert in Wa history, but I have not heard of rakshasa in any tales of Wa either. Nevertheless, Kara-Tur is a realm where the spirit world and the natural world are in close contact. To those of you from the western parts of Toril, it can be very odd coming to Kara-Tur, where the spirits can and do walk the earth as they please. It would not be hard to believe that a maleficent spirit, such as a rakshasa, would try to corrupt the mortal bureaucracy established by the Celestial Emperor. It is believed by most that the line of an emperor is a divine line.

   "I shall also note: honor is very important to my own people, so it should not be taken lightly when I describe Wa as a rigid honor-based culture. It would be very bothersome, to say the least, to the average Wanese citizen to learn that there had been an imposter in the divine line, even though their emperor does not truly rule. The emperor is still a symbol of pride and honor for the people."

   "Where could we find a Wa embassy?" asked Hakam. "And would they report to the shogun or to the emperor?"

   "They would report to the emperor in name but to the shogun in practice," said Ch'ung. "However, I do not know that they have any embassies in any lands. Again, they are isolationists and wary of any foreign presence."

   "You mentioned a port open to Shou traders," queried Hakam.

   "They are open to trade, but only at a few ports and to a limited number of nations, such as Shou Lung and T'u Lung — and only since Shou Year 2589, thanks to our Eighth Emperor Kai Chin. They will only permit trade with nations to whom they have offered an invitation."

   "Are there any large communities of Wanese people living in Shou Lung lands or elsewhere?" asked Hakam.

   "The Shou Lung province of Wa K'an, or, in your tongue, the Land that Views Wa, contains a people known as the Waka. Some of these people have mixed blood with the Wanese. Most are descendants of Shou who lived in Wa during our nation's occupation of that land. When our countries made peace, those Shou were allowed to return home to Shou Lung, and many settled in Wa K'an. Additionally, some Wa nobles in exile from Wa have fled there, though not in large numbers."

   "Have you ever heard of the organization known as the Harpers operating in either Shou Lung or Wa?" asked Hakam.

   "If you speak of the Harpers of your wizard Elminster, I have no such knowledge. In my understanding, that powerful wizard cares only of the affairs of Faerûn and does not venture into the lands of Kara-Tur with any frequency."

   The group of four adventurers looked at each other to see if they had anything else to ask among them. Kuang Ch'ung volunteered the following: "I had said that relations between Shou Lung and Wa were tenuous. I shall note that this is especially true here in wildspace. Wa is jealous of the power of our Imperial Spacefleet, and they have attempted to built a fleet of their own vessels to challenge our power in wildspace.

   "We believe — though it is not proven — that the Arcane have helped them to develop two vessels, about a decade ago, which they call the tsunami and the locust. The tsunami is a massive vessel, the largest vessel in all of Realmspace. It is like a segmented lung, a dragon, built of metal. It carries at least twenty smaller vessels, the locusts, with which they can swarm and overcome their foes in wildspace. We do not know the exact number, but Wa possesses at least three of these enormous spelljammers. As of yet, they have not spread far from the orbit of the Tears.

   "Our dragonships occassionally have come into conflict with their tsunamis. They are known even to have captured some of our vessels. Additionally, the Elven Navy has had a few wildspace battles with Wa. Neither of our peoples are officially at war with Wa, but relations are tense."

   Ch'ung looked directly at Solisar as he spoke these last details. Solisar nodded.

   As a show of good faith, Hakam showed one of Yunoko's letters to the clerk, in case he wanted to pass on the information about the imposter emperor to the ambassador. Kuang Ch'ung seemed very intrigued and thankful for this. The only thing further that he could add after reading it, however, was that the letter was signed in genuine Wanese calligraphy. "It is the character for 'love'," he said.

   As they departed the embassy, Hakam noted to this companions, "I suspect that we will have to journey to Cormyr to follow these leads further."

   "Do we have anything more to do here on the Rock?" asked Jayce.

   "I do not wish to tarry," said Szordrin. "Let us return to Toril and talk with Avilda. Then, we should seek out what we can in the Kingdom of Cormyr."

   "I shall return to Ombert then and tell him that we shall be ready to depart in the morning," said the bard.

~~~~

On the way back to the Pantheist Temple of Tyr, Hakam stopped at the northern end of the Great Market, outside the shop named Gamalon's Curios. He knelt at the largest cobblestone just outside the main door, placed his hands on the rock surface, and prayed to his god for ten minutes, ignoring the merchants and pedestrians on their way home who looked at him with confusion.

   Suddenly, Hakam spoke to the stone, "Tell me which wizards have walked upon you."

   Instantly, a flood of visions passed through Hakam's mind in rapid succession until they paused around the image of two younger men. The first was a younger version of the red-headed wizard who had exiled them nearly a year ago. The second was a silver-haired, bearded man. The man's hair style was quite similar to that of Szordrin, but the faces were very different; Onran's was much rounder in the cheeks. His eyes stood out, being of a golden color, almost glowing. Samber carried a staff and wore about his neck a silver cog with four spokes. Onran was wearing a pair of red leather boots, presumably the same as that pair that Leokas now wore.

   (He also became aware of the existence of a treasure vault deep below Gamalon's shop, but he had no interest in robbing Gamalon!)

   That night, Hakam also took incense that he had purchased and entered one of the tiny prayer rooms within the temple. Within the small, square chamber, he lit the blue, purple, and white candles and filled and lit the censor that hung suspended by a chain from the ceiling. Thick incense filled the tiny room. He knelt at the altar, a miniature stone warhammer and a functioning balance, and placed his offering of gold coins upon one of the scales. The balance tilted, of course, since the other tray was empty. Hakam began to recite a long and complicated prayer. When he finished it, he began again. On the 20th such repetition, the scale suddenly defied gravity and balanced.

   "How can I learn more about the god represented by the chameleon in Yashiera's vision?" he asked Anachtyr.

   Perhaps one of the other elves knows more about elven history, lore, and legend than the wild one.

   The voice in his head was not his own. When it had finished its brief message, the balance tilted again and the candles were suddenly snuffed out.
Session: 120th Game Session - Monday, Aug 31 2020 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Viewable by: Public
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