Chronicles of Khaldun: Down the Glen Tramp Little Men

Session 3

Freeday, Sunsebb 21, 552 CY (50 AN)

Making their way to the drain pipe on the western edge of town, Nasrin and Whislyr are confronted by the rusty grate Whislyr attempted to open earlier in the week. Nasrin, thinking quickly, lights a torch and holds it against the various bolts in turn, recalling that heating metal sometimes helps it move. After a handful of minutes of this, Whislyr pulls out her thieves’ tools and gets to work on the bolts again, this time managing to move them. A few more minutes’ work, and she unthreads the bolts from the grate, dropping the whole assemblage on the ground. Once they are certain no guard patrols were near and nobody heard, they slip into the Wyrding Wood surrounding Vonseloth and begin heading south towards Castow.

They make their way south for a couple of hours before finding an appropriate place to camp for the night. As they prepare the camp site, they spy someone heading towards them. A voice calls out, giving greeting, and as the person approaches, they recognize Arwellas, the willowy half-elf with the pet ferret whom they met between Castow and Husa Valley last week. Upon recognizing them, she again asks if they are lost and if they found the caravan they sought. (They reply that they did.) Since the woods are dangerous and they appear wounded, she offers to stay with them for the night and says she did not prepare any healing spells today, but could possibly aid them in the morning. Whislyr asks if she can have a moment to confer with her associate and Arwellas stands a respectful difference away while they discuss matters. Knowing that they have a piece of stolen (and highly-valuable) property with them, coupled with the fact that they’re both tired and injured, Whislyr doesn’t feel particularly comfortable inviting a near-stranger along with them. On the other hand, as Nasrin notes, there is safety in numbers, and they can take longer watch shifts so that neither of them are asleep at the same time. Whislyr agrees, and Nasrin lets her sleep, saying that she can stay awake most of the night.

The rest of the night is largely uneventful. In the early morning, Nasrin is awake while the other two sleep. She is starting to gather and prepare breakfast when she hears a giggle nearby, although she sees nothing. A small cloud of gas appears next to her, and although she catches a large whiff of it, she manages to shake off whatever effect it might have. (She notes that the colors of the surrounding forest briefly become “runny.”) She next notices the creature, whatever it is, untying her boots. She tries to be polite, not wanting to offend the Fair Folk, but she also tries to move around so that the wee folk cannot tie her boot laces together. Finally, she hears a noise (a voice, perhaps) as a flash of rainbow-colored light erupts in front of her. She is briefly blinded, while her companions are awakened by the flash and the commotion she makes. The creature giggles again but bothers them no more. Arwellas and Whislyr briefly return to sleep before beginning their day.

When Arwellas and Whislyr finally awaken, Nasrin has already prepared started morning porridge. Arwellas contributes some gathered berries and roots for it. While they eat, they become aware of movement through the forest — three large trees, moving slowly in their direction. As they approach, it is clear the trees have limbs and faces as the folk of the world do, albeit with the trees approaching twenty feet tall. Arwellas gives greeting in a language Nasrin and Whislyr don’t recognize, and the trees respond in kind. After a brief conversation, the trees continue on their way. (Arwellas explains that the trees — likely treants — merely wanted to ensure that all was well in the forest, and that these travelers were respectful and not letting their cook-fire out of control. Arwellas pledged to make sure no harm was done and that they would leave the forest largely as they found it.)

When breakfast is finished, Arwellas offers to accompany the pair to their destination, but Nasrin and Whislyr decline. Arwellas offers one final piece of advice: last night when they stepped away, she couldn’t help but overhear their situation. (She notes she has sharp ears.) And while she doesn’t much care about any of their troubles with the law, the guards at their destination might very well be searching bags and pouches when they arrive. They should probably figure out how they want to secure their stolen goods and get inside without being discovered.

Before leaving, Arwellas hands Nasrin and Whislyr a handful of berries, which she explains should provide them enough nourishment for the day. (Nasrin recognizes them as the goodberries sometimes prepared by itinerant holy men.) With that, Arwellas takes her leave, heading deeper into the forest as Nasrin and Whislyr begin heading south. While discussing their story, they decide to approach Castow from the south, claiming to be traveling from Husa Valley.

Scarcely an hour passes before the travelers hear the soft tones of panpipes wafting through the trees. They happen upon a satyr sitting upon a stump, and as they approach, a strange sensation overcomes them. He bids them to approach, to dance and revel and drink, for it is the day after the winter solstice! He pours them wine and continues playing his song, and after only a few moments, they snap out of their reverie. Introducing himself as Pylosel, he reiterates that the forest is dangerous and asks where they’re headed. (While Nasrin introduces herself by her real name, Whislyr merely calls herself “Lee.”) Nasrin responds that they’re heading to Husa Valley to meet some friends, and he asks if they’re headed to some manner of party. Nasrin replies that they are, and Pylosel insists on accompanying. Nasrin, again not wanting to offend the fey, doesn’t argue much to Whislyr’s chagrin.

After a relatively uneventful day of traveling through the forest, albeit with the pair suffering through Pylosel’s antics and near-constant supply of wine, they find a spot to camp for the night. They adopt the same procedure as last night: they both agree to take extra-long watches so that only one of them is asleep at a time while Pylosel is about. (Whislyr lets Nasrin sleep first since she barely slept at all yesterday.)

To her surprise, Whislyr finds Pylosel potentially useful in the night. After dinner, while Nasrin is asleep, a group of five elven hunters — forest folk by their mode of dress — with two hunting hounds approach the camp, and Pylosel greets them by attempting to play his ensorcelling song. The elves seem unaffected and give the camp a wide berth.

Just before midnight, a group of eight fur-clad hunters wielding greataxes also approach the camp, demanding some sort of tribute, but a discordant blast from Pylosel’s panpipes sends them scattering into the surrounding woods.

The rest of the night is uneventful, although since Pylosel is asleep by the time Whislyr awakens Nasrin to switch watches, they decide to briefly concoct a plan. They agree that they should probably ditch Pylosel when they have the opportunity, and they also agree that traveling through the forest is slow going and they should make their way to the road instead.

The rest of Nasrin’s watch is uneventful, and Pylosel and Whislyr awaken on the morning of Sunday, Sunsebb 23, without incident. After breakfast, they head towards the road and continue south. Shortly thereafter, they encounter an armored wagon, heavily guarded. (Based on the look, Nasrin and Whislyr suspect it is a prisoner transport.) Pylosel steps forward to address the guards, seeking to bring them into his endless revel, and Nasrin and Whislyr wordlessly look at each other and take the opportunity to slip into the surrounding woods, leaving Pylosel to whatever fate he is about to meet.

Once they are well past the prisoner transport, Nasrin and Whislyr return to the road. After an hour or so, they find the ravaged corpse of an elven man that appears to be fresh and partly eaten. (Nasrin briefly examines the body, but cannot determine the cause of death — there are too many wounds and too much blood to determine if this person was alive or dead when something started eating them.) They quickly examine his pack, finding a pouch with 18gp (which they divide among themselves), a diary in what appears to be Elvish script (although neither Nasrin nor Whislyr read Elvish, they recognize the dates across the top of entries), and a printed book in an unknown language. They take the pack and quickly take their leave of the scene of carnage.

As they round the bend, they are fairly certain they see shapes creep out of the underbrush and snowdrifts, surrounding the corpse and dragging it into the woods.

Within a couple of hours, they catch sight of the walls of Castow and so again slip into the woods, take the long way around, and emerge on the south road heading north. (When no one is watching, they enact their plan: Nasrin will tie the infernal puzzle box in her sash and wear it around her waist, claiming it has religious significance in Nadhi and is not to be disturbed during any search.) Arriving at Castow’s southern gate, Nasrin recognizes the guards on duty as the same guards present when she returned Pryllia. As they recognize each other, Nasrin briefly engages them in conversation, learning the following news:

  • Settlements in the area are still seeking the perpetrators of the burglary in Vonseloth. It is believed they probably slipped the city’s lockdown.
  • The same night, Scandshar — the largest city in the region — was attacked by an invasion force of dark elves. The situation is under control, but the city is still grappling with the attack.

Under the circumstances, everyone is still jumpy. As such, the guards have to search the pair’s bags, along with any other containers or cloaks they might be wearing or carrying that could reasonably contain something. They agree to this, but when the guard asks about the bundle at Nasrin’s waist, she explains that it is an item of religious significance in Nadhi and should not be touched. The guards seem to accept her explanation and offer their sincere apologies, letting the pair through the gates.

Making their way to The Drunken Bishop, the pair reserve rooms and note the locals — the only people currently in the common room are a merchant and a cloaked human man with a scar across his right eye, accompanied by two guards; he matches Nunalael’s description of Owyn Parre — before getting lunch and addressing their business. Moving to Owyn’s table, he asks how things are going over drinks before inquiring if they wish to move this to somewhere more private. He agrees to meeting them in his room. Leaving his bodyguards outside, he asks to see the puzzle box, and then asks if he can borrow it for a few minutes while he takes it to authenticate it. The ladies reluctantly agree, and he says he’ll be right back. (Once he leaves the inn, they can see him through the window, heading to a nearby shop.) He returns a few minutes later, saying the goods check out, and he hands them a pouch of coin.

Before they leave, he also makes them an offer: Nunalael has an additional job to offer them — 2,000gp for retrieving another ring from a ruin — but that job isn’t time-sensitive. He has a job that is: his sister lives in Husa Valley, just a day to the south, and his nephew has been missing a week. Things are a little too chaotic in town for the guard to investigate — and the town is small anyway, so it’s not like they have a large constabulary — so would they be able to investigate? He can offer 100gp, and he and his guards will accompany them to Husa Valley and make introductions if they agree. They are interested, and agree that they can meet with him tomorrow morning to leave for Husa Valley.

Leaving Owyn’s room, they return to their own room to count their gold and rest before tomorrow’s journey.

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Session 2

Godsday, Sunsebb 18, 552 CY (50 AN)

After conversing over dinner, Nasrin and Whislyr decide they should probably case the House Myrthneldth Tyoro estate. Making their way over to the aristocrats’ homes, they eventually find the Myrthneldth Tyoro estate. (A somewhat simple matter, as there still a bustle of activity coming from the main courtyard.) As with most of the estates, the manor is walled, although it is clear that there is a courtyard, a two-story tower built against the wall in the southwest corner, and a two-story house that sits against the southeast corner.

Nasrin and Whislyr find a hiding spot in a nearby alley and watch the house for most of the night. Although they cannot easily see into the house, they still learn several things of note:

  • There are no windows on the lower story, and only one entrance or exit. All the windows are on the upper story of the house or tower.
  • By the noise, it sounds as though the extra guards are camped in the main courtyard. There is likely some sort of makeshift barracks.
  • There are four guards stationed on the wall above the main entrance. They are attentive, but relaxed.
  • There is a short walkway along the wall between the second story of the tower and the second story of the manor house. Two guards are stationed by the door to the tower, and they stand at rigid attention.
  • The guards change at 11 PM. (Assuming the pattern holds, they likely change again at 7 AM and 3 PM.)
  • Shortly after the bell rings 9 PM, a figure emerges from the second story of the house. He wears robes, carries a thick book under his arm, and has shaggy brown hair and a brown Van Dyck beard. He crosses the walkway to the tower, unlocks the door, stays inside the tower for maybe ten minutes or so, and then exits. He relocks the door to the tower and returns to the manor house.

The night is largely uneventful, and as dawn threatens, Nasrin and Whislyr both creep back to their room at The Satyr’s Congress to catch a few hours’ sleep.

They awaken in the late morning on Waterday, Sunsebb 19, and over breakfast, they decide the best course of action is probably to try to steal the infernal puzzle box at the party rather than sneak into the house another time. As such, they part ways after breakfast, as both have preparations to perform.

Nasrin returns to buying drinks for aristocrats, courtiers, and nobles, attempting to get a relatively complete picture of people attending the Midvinter Masquerade. She doesn’t hear anything that seems out-of-place — it sounds like the usual assortment of aristocrats and merchants. The governor of Vonseloth is even supposed to make an appearance. (Nasrin does hear that a lawyer with the Illustrious Menagerie of Peacocks will be there, but it’s probably less a matter of organized crime syndicates being actively involved and more a matter of him being an important enough person to merit an invitation.) Given her familiarity with military history, the most interesting person to her ear is a hobgoblin military leader from Grimwald, and she makes a note to speak with him.

Meanwhile, Whislyr is planning their exit. Assuming that they will have to leave a city on lockdown, she assumes the sewers will probably be the best way to exit the city. Her investigation leads her to a large drainage pipe outside the city walls. While she is certain she could probably navigate her way to it and she notes that it is not guarded (and not even terribly well-patrolled), it is covered with a grate. She probes the bolts holding the grate in place with her thieves’ tools, but suspects the whole assemblage is welded shut. However, she rules that she and Nasrin can probably figure out some way to bypass the old grate on the night of their escape, so she makes note of her discovery and returns to Vonseloth.

Apart from buying masks and gathering preparations for the party, the next couple of days are uneventful. (Nasrin acquires a beaded mask in traditional Nadhi style, while Whislyr acquires an owl mask. Knowing that she will be without arms, Nasrin also purchases a dagger to bring into the party with her, knowing that knives and rapiers are permitted.) They arrive at the Myrthneldth Tyoro estate in the afternoon on Freeday, Sunsebb 21, somewhere in the middle of the pack of guests. A light snow begins to fall as the party begins. The plan proceeds for a while without incident: they make introductions (while Nasrin is properly introduced by her name and titles, Whislyr is introduced as Sierra, her bodyguard) and mingle with the other guests. In addition to several elf aristocrats, including the governor of Vonseloth (who does not stay terribly long), there are a number of aristocrats, merchants, and researchers from across the Sorrowfell Plains. They also meet the lord and lady of the manor, anis’Kethala and Lerissa Myrthneldth Tyoro, both resplendent in winter finery. (anis’Kethala is a particularly wintry elf, while Lerissa is a tiefling, also of pallid seeming.) Likewise, the humans of the Anhak delegation are present: Bargle, Katrina Reiss, and Lamprecht Reiss. Lamprecht and Katrina are older, while Bargle appears to be bearded and middle-aged; while Lamprecht and Katrina are both dressed for the festivities, Bargle is the only one present who eschews a mask, and his outfit clashes with Lamprecht’s outfit. (Whether that is intentional or not is unclear, but he certainly seems smug enough to make such a bold statement.)

Wolgar of the Tiger’s Tooth Clan, the hobgoblin warrior with whom Nasrin wished to speak is the second-to-last to arrive. He arrives in a traditional goblin mask, and wears a greatcoat bristling with medals. (He retains his coat even indoors.) He strikes quite the presence, getting a drink and regaling the revelers with tales of his campaigns in the Hoarfrost Ridge. Nasrin realizes that she doesn’t recognize all of the events he recounts, but even after introducing herself and having an opportunity to take his measure, she still can’t get a good read on Wolgar. He’s a trifle inscrutable.

(The last reveler to arrive, a musclebound tiefling named Idealism of the Wilds, makes a grand entrance. He appears to be some manner of dashing adventurer, and he is certain to speak with every lady present. Nasrin and Whislyr are not impressed.)

While Nasrin is otherwise engaged, Whislyr takes the opportunity to coordinate with the servants about the itinerary. Guests will arrive, then the Wunderkammer is to open around 4 PM, a light repast will be served (buffet-style) at around 6 PM, and fireworks will be discharged at 8 PM. Afterward, the revelers dance and keep vigil all night.

When the Wunderkammer opens, Nasrin and Whislyr file in the with the others, ready to plot their heist. While the aristocrats gawk and the scholars take copious notes, Nasrin and Whislyr carefully examine the exhibits. Both floors have three guards posted at all times, and the circular floors of the tower mean the exhibits are arranged around the outer edge, with one exhibit in the middle of each floor. On the first floor, clockwise from the entrance, the exhibits are as follows:

  • Hanging on the wall is a portrait of a tiefling woman, clad in sheer silk. A third eye is emblazoned on her brow, and a shadowy figure is partially visible behind her. The portrait is labeled, “Empress Janatra Erinyesblade, Last Empress of Bael Turath.”
  • A bronze pedestal holding a glass case atop a steel tray. Within the glass case is a jar filled with fluid, and floating in the fluid is an eye the size of a man’s fist. The case is labeled, “Beauty.”
  • A bronze pedestal holding a glass case atop a steel tray. Within the case is a decaying, mummified hand. It appears motionless, but when people approach, it throws itself against the glass, as if to startle them. It then bounces in place, as if amused by its own antics. The case is labeled, “Aakom-Tainted Hand of Demon-Haunted Qelong.”
  • A bronze pedestal holding a glass case atop a steel tray. Within the case is a tiny wooden chest, carved to look like it has numerous feet on the bottom. The case is labeled, “Mimicry.”
  • A bronze pedestal holding a glass case atop a steel tray. The case contains a cutting of elm root with a spindly white mushroom growing upon it. It bears a large cap with vaguely-skull shaped brown spots. The case is labeled, “Poet’s Respite.”
  • A stuffed, two-headed owlbear stands, poised to attack. The taxidermy is labeled, “Mutated Owlbear. Recovered from the Feywalk Woods.”
  • A bronze pedestal holding a glass case atop a steel tray. Within the case is a collection of red dragon scales. The case is labeled, “Scales of Benthosruthsa, the Scourge of Scandshar.”
  • A bronze pedestal holding a glass case atop a steel tray. Within the case is a brooch made from a winged centipede encased in amber. The case is labeled, “Age Calls to Yet.”
  • A bronze pedestal holding a glass case atop a steel tray. The case contains a small iron statue of a duergar king with a cold and angry expression. He brandishes an axe in his hands. The case is labeled, “Thane Vitr Vejik.”
  • Hanging on the wall is a map, half of a tattered floorplan for a fortress or temple. The map is labeled, “The Temple of the Frog.”
  • In the center of the room sits a bronze pedestal. A ruby monocle is chained to it, and the pedestal is labeled, “The Ravages of Age.”

The Wunderkammer continues on the second floor. Again, clockwise from the stairwell, the exhibits are:

  • A bronze pedestal holding a glass case atop a steel tray. Inside the case is a barbute-style helm with bat wing accents. The case is labeled, “Helm of the Warduke of Anhak?”
  • A bronze pedestal holding a glass case atop a steel tray. Within the case hangs a dreamcatcher made from fishing line, gold wire, and snowy owlbear feathers. The case is labeled, “Northlands Sleeping Fetish.”
  • A bronze pedestal holding a glass case atop a steel tray. Inside the case is an owl figurine carved from whalebone. Strangely, viewers have the sense of having forgotten what they were about to say, the sense of a word just on the tip of the tongue. The case is labeled, “Northlands Owl Figurine. Said to bring ill fortune.”
  • A bronze pedestal holding a glass case atop a steel tray. The case contains a clay whistle, shaped like a skull and bearing the hallmarks of Olman iconography. The case is labeled, “Olman Death Whistle.”
  • Hanging on the wall is a picture frame containing a mud-stained wanted poster for one Bosabrieln Peredhel Zivkovic. The reward is 250,000gp, dead or alive. It appears to have been signed by Bosabrieln himself. The picture is labeled, “Hero or Villain?”
  • A bronze pedestal holding a glass case atop a steel tray. Inside the case is a bottle of clear red fluid, which contains a tentacle covered in eyes. The case is labeled, “Aberration.”
  • A bronze pedestal holding a glass case atop a steel tray. The case is decorated like a terrarium containing a small clockwork crab. It does not move, but whenever the case is viewed, the crab appears to have changed position. The case is labeled, “Clockwork Crab, Anhak Gnomish Tinkerers’ Guild.”
  • A bronze pedestal holding a glass case atop a steel tray. Within the case is a glass bottle containing a brass miniature of a tower. The case is labeled, “Lost Tower of the Djinn?”
  • A bronze pedestal holding a glass case atop a steel tray. Inside the case is a small pewter cage. The cage contains a miniature elk, which appears to be alive and grazing on some manner of tiny grass. The case is labeled, “Pygmy Elk.”
  • A bronze pedestal holding a glass case atop a steel tray. The case contains a bone cup carved with a strange cityscape. The case is labeled, “Chalice of Grim Carcosa.”
  • In the center of the room sits a pedestal holding a glass case. A lacquered box with brass fittings rests inside the case. It looks heavy. The case is labeled, “Infernal Puzzle Box of the Last Empress of Bael Turath.”

Nasrin and Whislyr’s examination of the exhibits confirms that there is a security system in place, although it probably isn’t magical. The pedestals are trapped such that removing the cases triggers a mechanism, probably using some manner of pressure plate. Although the pedestals are heavy, they appear movable. The pictures on the walls likely have a similar mechanism in place.

Given the setup, Nasrin and Whislyr both quietly think they can wing it — a smash-and-grab while people are distracted. The best time to strike is likely during the fireworks, when everyone is distracted.

They have an opportunity to converse over cocktails and finger foods while listening to the live music. (Nasrin and Whislyr also note that the lord and lady of the manor seem to be getting frequent messages from messengers and staff. Whatever they hear seems to disturb them, but they do their best to continue with the party. Most of the guests seem not to notice their subtle distress.) People drift in and out of the Wunderkammer in the estate’s tower. Finally, as the bell towers toll 8 PM, Nasrin gets to work ushering people out of the Wunderkammer towards the courtyard. (A couple of the researchers stay behind, clearly trying to draw sketches and take notes. Wolgar also lingers behind, looking at the artwork.) Nasrin notes that the fireworks appear to be largely magical, more light than sound, but they still have the appropriate effect.

While Nasrin accompanies the crowd into the courtyard, Whislyr seeks to set another distraction. She sneaks into the second story of the house using the walkway between the tower and manor. Avoiding the guards and the servants, she uses her flint and steel and some rags to set fire to the linens in one of the spare bedrooms.

As Whislyr is in the process of setting fires, and Nasrin is keeping aware of any developments surrounding the tower, both hear a high-pitched whine emanate from the tower accompanied by a definite commotion, largely shouts. Both peel off from their respective tasks to investigate. Nasrin takes the door leading from the courtyard into the tower, and finds three guards tangling with a single goblin, wielding a razor blade. The goblin is clad in leathers, but its face looks almost exactly like Wolgar’s face. Meanwhile, Whislyr sneaks across the walkway, noting that the door to the tower is open and that she hears shouts and footsteps in the alley. She continues to the second story of the tower, finding a handful of confused scholars, a guardsman on high alert, and Wolgar’s abandoned coat. She sees the commotion downstairs, and as Nasrin moves back into the courtyard, Whislyr takes to the walkway, drops down into the alley, and moves in the direction of the shouts.

When Nasrin has the chance, she slips away from the group, scales the walkway, and drops down into the alley, also in search of the others.

Whislyr happens to run into two guards searching for someone. When they spot her, they ask if she saw two goblins heading this way. Not wanting to deal with the guards, Whislyr sends them off in a random direction. Unable to find the goblins herself, she scales the nearest, tallest building she can find, getting roughly thirty feet in elevation. After a moment of watching, she sees two goblins emerge from an alleyway, give each other a nod, and head in separate directions. Shortly thereafter, Nasrin wanders into the tangle of streets, clearly looking for either Whislyr or their quarry. Whislyr decides she’ll have to catch up with Nasrin later, and she quickly scales down the temple spire, returning to the snowy streets and selecting one of the goblins at random to pursue. She manages to catch up to the goblin, but he spots her and flees. She gives chase, but loses the goblin as it rounds the corner into an alley. However, given the freshly-fallen snow, she can clearly note where its tracks delve into a pile of garbage. She approaches, only to have the goblin fire upon her, drop its hand crossbow, and slash at her with his straight razor, opening a nasty gash on her inner thigh. Hearing the scuffle, Nasrin runs toward the noise, arriving just as the goblin is fleeing Whislyr. Whislyr, hanging back due to the severity of her wound, throws a dagger at the fleeing goblin, but the wily creature manages to dodge as it flees deeper into the alley.

Nasrin and Whislyr give chase, attempting to find the goblin as it tries to lose them in the tangle of alleyways. When they are within sight of him, running past a pack of stray dogs, the goblin tips over a trash can, spilling the garbage into the alley. Nasrin keeps on the goblin’s heels, but Whislyr arrives only after the stray dogs have started fighting over the scraps. She manages to leap over the dogs without interrupting their feeding frenzy, and the chase continues. The goblin rounds another corner and loses Nasrin and Whislyr, although Whislyr again tracks their quarry to a pile of crates. Nasrin approaches, and the goblin leaps from the crates, opening a nasty gash on her arm with its straight razor. The creature flees and Nasrin again gives chase, grabbing the goblin. As they struggle in the alley, Whislyr draws one of her knives and throws it, hitting the distracted goblin directly in the throat. He makes a wicked chortling sound and falls, his blood pooling into the snow.

The two women quickly search the fallen goblin, and find that a pouch at his hip indeed contains the infernal puzzle box. They then pile snow over the dead goblin, and flee that place, limping back to their rooms at The Satyr’s Congress. They already hear alarm bells start to ring, as both guardsmen and bucket brigades start to mobilize.

Once they return to The Satyr’s Congress, Nasrin changes out of her mask and sari and into her gambeson and chain mail. Both women gather their equipment, bandage their wounds, make their way to the nearest sewer grate, and slip inside, trying to quickly and quietly make their way to the drain pipe on the west side of town.

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Session 1

Freeday, Sunsebb 14, 552 CY (50 AN)

Nasrin and Whislyrin find themselves in the backroom of The Satyr’s Congress, one of the seedier taverns in Vonseloth. Accompanying them is a dark-skinned, scholarly half-elf, having contacted them seeking them specifically for a job. Introducing himself as Nunalael Myrthneldth Alari, he explains that he heard they work discreetly, and that they have skills he thought might be useful for this sort of work.

He proceeds to explain. The Winter Solstice will be in a week, and House Myrthneldth Tyoro are throwing their annual Midwinter Masquerade. This year, they are celebrating the brokering of a new trade deal between their house (on behalf of Vonseloth) and the government of Vor Taluum in Anhak. As such, the festivities are going to be bigger, and will incorporate aspects of Anhak culture: they have rebranded it as the Midvinter Masquerade, and are including an Anhak-style Wunderkammer as part of the festivities.

As part of Nunalael’s studies, he is familiar with legends of the ten rings of humankind. The many varieties of folk in the world are said to have origins from various planes and gods, but humans are uniquely of the world, and the ten rings of humankind reflect this by acting as bulwarks against the incursion of extraplanar entities in the Prime Material Plane. Apparently, the Vor Taluum delegation are bringing a gift: an infernal puzzle box that Nunalael’s contacts indicate contains one of these rings. House Myrthneldth Tyoro is going to host the infernal puzzle box as the centerpiece of their Wunderkammer, presumably thereafter stuffing it in a vault somewhere to never be seen again for years, decades, or centuries.

He wants Nasrin and Whislyr to retrieve the box and deliver it to Owyn Parre at The Drunken Bishop in Castow, who will pay them 500gp and possibly offer them additional work.

His contacts have told him additional things about the foreign delegation. They are traveling in the company of one Bargle, a potent magus who is said to be powerful enough that they ought to avoid him at all costs, as he is likely too skilled for them to confront directly. The foreign delegation is traveling by ship, although he does not know their heading: they are either landing in Sorgforge and approaching Vonseloth from the south, or they are landing in Khuragzar and approaching Vonseloth from the north. Traveling from Khuragzar-to-Vonseloth is the shorter route, but takes them through dangerous back country; the route from Sorgforge-to-Vonseloth is longer, but safer, so he suspects they will take that route. Once they have arrived, he expects the delegation will formally present the infernal puzzle box to House Myrthneldth Tyoro, and they will likely install it in the Wunderkammer shortly thereafter. It will be open to invited guests once the party starts in late afternoon, as the sun sets, and the party will continue in a Yuletide vigil until the next morning.

Nunalael understands the Vor Taluum delegation are to have a large contingent of twenty or so guards with them, so security is likely to be tight. He also suspects they will have left some travel time in case of emergency, arriving in Vonseloth anywhere between one and three days before the Winter Solstice. And while he doesn’t know much about stealing — that’s why he hired these two ladies, after all — he notes that the pulp novels always say it’s easier to grab something in transit. The way he sees it, they can either steal it off the caravan, steal it from the house while it sits in the Wunderkammer the day or two before the party, or at the party itself. Given Nasrin’s noble contacts, he expects she should be able to secure an invitation if they wish to go that route.

With no further questions, Nunalael wishes them well, and says he took the liberty of securing rooms for them here at The Satyr’s Congress for the next week should they wish to use them. He is unlikely to see them again, but if they have any other questions, they can leave a message with the barkeep and he send word to Nunalael. Nunalael then takes his leave.

With a week to plan, Nasrin and Whislyr agree they should get more information. They decide to spend the evening in their respective spheres of influence, buying drinks and gathering information. Whislyr stays at The Satyr’s Congress, buying 2gp worth of drinks and learning the following:

  • “There’s a Knight of Science inquisition hot on the heels of the Vor Taluum delegation, and they’re going to condemn the entire Wunderkammer.”
  • “Watch your tongue among the aristocracy. Some of ’em are on the take. Too many eyes and feathers, if you catch my meaning.” (Whislyr is familiar with thieves’ cant, and so knows talk of the Illustrious Menagerie of Peacocks’ organized crime syndicate when she hears it.)

Nasrin mingles with the upper class at The Silver Bell, dropping 10gp on drinks. She manages to secure an invitation for her and a guest to the Midvinter Masquerade, and she learns the following information from the patrons:

  • “Back home, Bargle earned the epithet ‘the Infamous’ because he murdered a priest of the Church of Pelor-Who-Is-Paladine and got away with it.”
  • “I heard the hand of Vecna is going to be on display in the Myrthneldth Tyoro cabinet of curiosities, so jot that down.”
  • “Can you feel it on the wind? Foul tidings this Midwinter. I’m taking my family to the mountains soon; the cities aren’t safe.”
  • “House Tyoro has about two dozen guards, but I heard the Vor Taluum contingent is going to double that number while they’re here.”
  • “The Tyoros are loaded. I expect security there to be tight as a drum. They could probably even afford a theft deterrent system beyond just guards.”
  • “House Myrthneldth Tyoro is part of some sort of devil cult. I bet they’re going to turn this Solstice into a bloodbath.”
  • “I heard that House Myrthneldth Alari is part of some sort of cult. Trying to gather artifacts of the world to trap the gods themselves or some such. Can you imagine the hubris?”
  • “My niece acted as a procurer for the Tyoros’ Wunderkammer. Seven words of advice: the owls are not what they seem.”

Whislyr is already home when Nasrin returns late in the evening, still somewhat tipsy but brimming with information. When they compile their information, they decide they ought to ride south as fast as possible, in the hopes of intercepting the Vor Taluum delegation. They’ll try to locate and take the infernal puzzle box by nightfall, although they’re concerned that Bargle will have occult protections in place that they will be unable to counteract. Still, they can at least get eyes on it, and they have party invitations as a fallback option. (Incidentally, the party dress code requires costumes or fine dress, as well as masks. Armor and weapons are largely prohibited, save for knives and rapiers. They decide that having Whislyr accompany Nasrin as her bodyguard might be the best choice.)

For tomorrow’s ride, they realize they will likely need horses. They lack the money to afford horses, but they can certainly “borrow” some. Whislyr runs out on that errand, heading to The Silver Bell. There are a half-dozen beautiful black stallions in the stables, guarded by just a pair of guards. Whislyr waits for the guards to be on the move, slips inside, unhitches the pens, and causes a great commotion to startle the horses into fleeing. When the guards chase after them, she takes two remaining horses in another direction. Noting that they have Patenaude Merchant Co. brands on their flanks, she travels to a coal bin to try to shade the brands so they are less obvious, and then stashes the horses near their own inn.

The next morning, Starday, Sunsebb 15, Nasrin, Whislyr, and their stolen horses manage to leave Vonseloth without incident, traveling the south road to Castow. Travel is uneventful, and not terribly anxious to enter into a settlement with stolen horses, they camp in the woods for the night, each taking six hour shifts.

As Nasrin’s shift starts and Whislyr falls asleep, Nasrin hears distant crying in the woods, sounding like a weeping child. Eventually, a figure steps into the light of their fire: a small halfling child wearing a nightdress and clutching a stuffed octopus. Introducing herself as Pryllia, she explains that she was following a road of rainbows and arrived here. (Nasrin notes that she was likely sleepwalking.) Whislyr, now awakened by the crying child, says she can mind the horses while Nasrin takes the girl back to town.

The trip the Castow is uneventful. Pryllia has fallen asleep by the time they arrive, so Nasrin is carrying her when they arrive at the gate. The guards on night watch don’t seem to know her, but they say they can get her to her family. Nasrin makes the trek back to the campsite, and nothing has occurred in her absence. The rest of the night passes uneventfully.

On the morning of Sunday, Sunsebb 16, they continue their journey after breakfast. A couple of hours out, they encounter a gnomish tinkerer with a cart and an old pony. He appears to have trinkets and mechanical objects. Introducing his enterprise as Rittenbaum’s Tinkering, he asks if they have anything in need of repair. They do not, but Nasrin offers to purchase something, and ultimately buys a child’s top that can be self-powered using boiling water in the manner of an aeolipile. He charges her 4sp for it. Rittenbaum thanks them, and when asked, does not know about any large caravans coming from the south, although it’s possible that he might have missed such a thing. He continues on his way.

A couple of hours pass as they continue along the road, and around midday, they encounter a cloaked traveler, a tall, willowy half-elf woman. She walks with a staff, and a ferret curls around her shoulders. The travelers greet her, and she introduces herself as Arwellas. She asks if they have any news, and reveals that she has heard of little that is troubling hereabouts. She has not heard of a foreign delegation the likes of which they describe; merely the standard sorts of merchant caravans that usually travel this route. She expects she would have heard some news from a rider or something like that had a political delegation come through here. When the travelers are satisfied, Arwellas continues on her way.

Realizing that the Vor Taluum delegation must have traveled via Khuragzar, Nasrin and Whislyr turn around, rushing back towards Castow. (Arwellas waves as they pass her again. She shouts, asking if they are lost or need something, but Nasrin responds that they’re just turned around. She wishes them luck.) Their journey is uneventful until they again enter the woods and make camp for the evening. However, just before supper, they encounter that same child again, crying and lost. (Pryllia claims she saw dogs outside the village gates. They looked like her dogs, but they seemed to disappear and reappear, and she wanted to pet them. Nasrin tells her those are probably blink dogs, and one must be very careful around them, given that they are creatures of Faerie.) At Whislyr’s behest, Nasrin is originally going to just send her back towards Castow, but thinks better of it and decides to accompany her again. She makes the trek to Castow without incident; this time, the guards on duty know Pryllia. Nasrin warns them about the blink dogs, and that such might mean fey activity in the woods. (They indicate that they see them from time to time, and they haven’t caused any trouble.) The guard says he’ll get Pryllia home, and then gives Nasrin a potion of healing for her trouble.

The journey back to the campsite is uneventful (and Whislyr encountered nothing further while she waited with the horses), so Nasrin and Whislyr have dinner and begin their watches for the evening. The evening passes without incident.

The next morning, Moonday, Sunsebb 17, Nasrin and Whislyr continue their journey. When they arrive near Vonseloth, they cut into the woods, not wanting to attract unwanted attention to their stolen horses. They again camp in the woods for the night.

Whislyr is on watch, and they are about to change watches, when she realizes that their camp is surrounded. Seven humanoid figures wearing cloaks and leather armor, armed with shortswords and shortbows, have crept out of the woods without her noticing. They a short for humanoids, and have crowlike features: kenku, by the look of them. One gestures with its shortsword and mimics the sound of coins jingling in the back of its throat. Whislyr awakens Nasrin, prompting the kenku to mimic a rooster crowing and to repeat the coins. Conferring among themselves, which prompts the kenku to make the sound of a ticking clock. Nasrin and Whislyr note that they have little of value worth stealing. The kenku nods, then looks at their horses and makes a neighing sound. Four of the kenku begin to take the reigns and begin moving the horses into the forest, while the other three cover them with shortbows. Whislyr and Nasrin share a look, and Whislyr leaps forward, drawing her rapier and stabbing the speaking kenku in the shoulder. He shouts and reels backward, moving to step forward while his fellows hold him back. The three bowmen fire: two arrows hit Whislyr in the chest and she falls, while one hits Nasrin in the leg. One of the kenku gestures to Whislyr and makes the sound of a heartbeat, and Nasrin lets them leave while she pulls the potion of healing from her pack and pours it down Whislyr’s throat. She gasps, awakening with a start as the kenku leave with the horses, now twice stolen.

Despite their annoyance at being robbed, Nasrin and Whislyr are aware they are lucky to be alive, and so decide to continue sans horses, as chasing the kenku is hardly worth it. They bandage their wounds and switch watches.

The pair awakens the next morning, Godsday, Sunsebb 18, and continues their journey north, into the Hoarfrost Ridge and the Sylernavian Pass. Around midday, they encounter a large caravan comprising four wagons with a fine carriage in the middle. Roughly a dozen armed guards walk alongside the caravan. Nasrin and Whislyr stand aside as the caravan passes, and realizing that it is likely their target. They continue north until the caravan is out of sight, then they double-back toward Vonseloth. They return to Vonseloth in the early evening, their target now inside the city gates, and likely approaching the manor house of House Myrthneldth Tyoro. They return to their rooms at The Satyr’s Congress, resolved to continue their planning on the morrow.

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