Thursday, 26 July 2012

Khorvaire - Session 15 - 25/07/2012

Session 15: The Diamond (25th July 2012)

The cast of heroes

Arken (Half-Elf Cleric) – leader of the party
Bardan (Human Fighter) – the muscle
Knil (Elf Ranger) – the tracker
Korum Proudfoot (Halfling Thief) – the scout
Rioja Hyrule (Human Mage) – the wizard
Kima (Black Domestic Cat) – his familiar

Eoforwic Bound (Day 245-268)

Realising that they had no further use for the great diamond, the party decided to head to the nearest major city in an attempt to sell it. The smaller towns in their locale would not have the capacity or wealth to purchase a gem of such value, so the great nobles and merchants of a large city would be required to provide the market. Eoforwic, the capital city of Mournland, was chosen as their destination. Preparations were made for the likelihood of the return of the Darkness and the party set off.

After just over two weeks travelling the party arrived in Eoforwic. They made for the most expensive inn in the city, The Bandit’s Arms, where they rented a room each that led off of a private lounge area and started to make their preparations for the sale of the great diamond. They had it independently valued as being worth several tens of thousands of Gold Pieces in several places and made it known that they would be selling the jewel by auction in the market square in one week’s time. Interest was quickly expressed, but there were five main front runners as the purchasers: a local noble, two gem traders and two collectors.

The preliminary planning took a couple of days, so the party had a few days to get on with preparations until auction day. They all headed off in their own directions, except for Bardan.

Knil spent his time looking for some new weapons and armour to purchase when he got his share from the sale of the diamond, and made himself at home in the large tree just outside the window of the party’s main leisure room at the inn. He would guard the approach to the private room from the outside.

Bardan set up a vigil for the diamond in the private lounge. He placed it in the middle of the room within its box and set his chair in the corner where he could keep an eye on both the window and door of the chamber. After a short while there was a slight noise from the wall beside him. A secret panel started to shift aside and a shadowy figure was revealed within the hidden compartment. Bardan used his elbow to strike the figure, which yelped in surprise, dropped out of sight and promptly escaped. Obviously thieves were aware of the treasure and were attempting to get their piece of the action. Bardan re-closed the secret door, tied a string across the hidden compartment and also similarly trapped the window. No thieves would be getting past him now he knew about the other entrance to the room.

Arken headed to the Temple of Din located within the city. He prayed and confided in his god but no further information was forthcoming to aid their quest. He made a large donation and returned to the party’s private quarters at the inn. Bardan told him his story, so Arken set three wards and glyphs around the diamond. So it was now magically as well as physically guarded.

Rioja set off to the city library to try to find out some more information about Nephyros and the Darkness. The public shelves could tell him no more than he already knew, but one tome did reference an older ledger that may still be in existence that perhaps could give a little more information. He tried to find out if the library had one in its private collection but the clerk was blind to all his advances. Rioja awaited a change of staff later in the day to see if another clerk would be more amenable to his questioning. Luckily the late shift clerk was a little more sympathetic to Rioja’s cause and after hinting heavily about how hard it was to feed his large family passed the magic user a key to the archive vaults. The main proviso was that the clerk would be back early in the morning to turf him out before the senior librarian arrived. Rioja thanked him for his wisdom with more than a few gold coins, and made his way into the vault as the clerk locked the library for the night.

Rioja headed past rows of glass fronted cabinets containing curios of days gone by before alighting upon the private collection. He eventually found the tome he was looking for and made notes of what he found out. The three aspects of Nephyros were mentioned but only two were purposefully created by the dragon. The Hawk and the Beast were the main two aspects, but upon withdrawing those essences from himself, he also inadvertently created the Darkness. The tome mentioned that there was no real way of destroying it as it was created by accident and not as the end result of a ritual which could be reversed. The book, cryptically, mentioned a farmer who encountered the Darkness which didn’t really fit in with the rest of the book, but it gave a description that matched what the party had encountered previously. The final few pages of the ancient text also mentioned that over all the millennia that the fight between Light and Darkness had been drawn over ended with about a three to five ratio with Aphyros winning the struggle. However, the last battle ended differently; Nephyros had created the new aspects to help pave the way for victory in their next encounter (the battle that was being fought now). He had never split himself prior to this. The last sentence mentioned that the Darkness had been roaming free for the last millennium but was slowly growing in power, as well as being independent of the other two forces. Rioja checked the night oil and found it was running low, so he used the remainder of his time browsing through random tomes until the return of the clerk. He was able to find a few spells contained within the dusty pages of the books, so he copied them down for future study and reference. The clerk arrived back a little while before opening time and ushered Rioja out into the dew laden streets. The mage returned to the Bandit’s Arms.

Korum was a little more secretive than his compatriots. After getting the horses stabled and the rooms sorted he hid himself from general view so that as few people as possible could relate him to the party with the diamond. He slipped out of the inn and headed towards the Thieves’ Guild. He managed to find it easily enough by following certain sigils carved upon the lintels above the doors of certain buildings. He passed the lock entrance test to be faced by an attractive female human receptionist. However, as he later discovered, she didn’t have hairy feet so she dropped quite drastically in his estimation. He requested an audience with the master of the Guild, and after answering a few simple questions that only a high ranking thief would know the answer to, was led through a small antechamber and into a courtyard where he was met by a tall, thin human wearing an elaborate robe. He was shown around the courtyard to see what the members were getting up to and finally into the chamber of the master thief. He made sure he noticed all of the faces, doors and escape routes as he proceeded through the complex. When he was finally alone in the presence of the master he discussed his plans to steal the diamond and present it to the Guild. The Master agreed to reward him in return for purloining the diamond but warned him that others were after it too, and may already have it in their possession. Korum mentioned that he would be the one to bring it to the master before any of the others could. Rather than return directly to The Bandit’s Arms he decided to check in to a poorer establishment to throw any follows off the scent. He bided his time, and realised that he was being followed but was able to work out the pattern of observation so slipped away back to The Bandit’s Arms for a couple of hours to explain what he was up to.

The whole party had now arrived back at the inn so told their stories about what they had found out. Korum trapped the secret door to stop further incursions from that direction and they all realised that they may be able to sell the diamond for a great amount, steal it back from whoever bought it and then implicate the Thieves’ Guild after Korum had claimed a reward for it. Arken, Bardan and Knil remained in the inn to guard the jewel whilst Rioja contacted Laerus to see if he had a contact in the city. He gave Rioja the name of one of his friends who owed him a favour. Korum headed back to the run down tavern to resume his part for the cover story.

One More Day (Day 268)

The following morning, Rioja headed off to visit Laerus’s mage friend for more information. Unfortunately, he was unable to tell Rioja anything other than what he already knew but, as recompense, the wizard was able to teach him a few new spells.

Korum began investigating the five main interested parties, and cased their homes, warehouses and guard routines. He was able to find out that none of the other thieves would be attempting to steal the jewel until after the transaction. He made it known that he would be stealing it before the auction to deter others from accosting the party. During his investigations he was also able to book six guards to escort the party to the auction site and then accompany them to get the diamond safely to the stronghold of the buyer. He also asked Rioja to cast a cantrip onto one of his rings so that he could activate the lesser ancible to give the party notice that he had stolen the diamond back and he needed their help straight away. They would obviously know which merchant’s house to head towards as they would have been there once already. He also asked Rioja to load a Magic Missile onto the wand Laerus had given him, so he had an extra sure fire shot in his arsenal for added protection.

Auction Day (Day 269)

After a hearty breakfast, Arken, Bardan and Rioja accompanied by the six guards Korum had booked for them, made their way to the market place for the auction. Knil made his way across the rooftops and set up a vigil overlooking the square. Korum watched the proceedings from the shadows, and as soon as the auction was concluded headed towards that merchant’s house and hid waiting for the party to arrive. The gem sold for a massive 87,000 Gold Pieces and would be sure to attract the attention of every would-be thief in the city. The party, plus their six guards and those provided by the buyer more than put off any straight forward attack. The deal took a short while to prove it was genuine on both sides with a bill of sale raised by the city to provide the assurance. The party and buyer then headed to the buyer’s house to conclude the deal.

Meanwhile, Korum had been watching the house and noticed that an upper storey window had been left open – unusual if the inhabitants were out. He then further noticed furtive movements within the upper chamber. He realised the occupant was a fellow thief, so he waited in the shadows to see what happened.

The party and buyer arrived and entered the building. Half an hour later, the party emerged with smiles on their faces, so Korum assumed the deal had been concluded and the monies paid. In keeping with the plan, the party did not return to their inn but made their way to a tavern local to the merchant’s house to await Korum’s signal.

Korum kept up his watch on the open window. Sure enough, after a couple more hours had passed, and dusk was settling in, a dark-dressed figure stealthily crawled out of the open window, across a roof and down a drain pipe. This was Korum’s cue to start following. He caught up with the figure in a dark alley a hundred yards away from the merchant’s house. He launched himself at the figure and attempted to pin the person down. The secretive figure turned out to be a human male with an aspect that marked him out as not being a normal citizen. The thief went for his dagger, but Korum was quicker. He grabbed the weapon from its sheath and threw it across the alleyway. The thief’s other hand was held in a vice-like grip, and after ejecting the weapon, Korum grabbed him by the throat. He asked where the diamond was but the thief denied all knowledge. Korum increased the pressure on the thief’s windpipe and the thief started to reach for something. Korum guided the hand to where it wanted to go; a satchel hidden beneath the burglar’s cloak. The thief opened his eyes in surprise and looked over Korum’s shoulder with intent. Korum wasn’t going to fall for that old trick so punched the thief. Unfortunately the immense strength given to him by the Girdle of Frost Giant’s Strength meant the thief’s head hit the cobbles too hard. Without waiting to look around, Korum snatched the satchel from the body and escaped into the shadows.

The ancible in Rioja’s hand began to flash so the party knew that Korum had completed his task. They made their way towards the merchant’s house, but a few streets before they got there a small fellow approached them directly and dropped a satchel at Bardan’s feet with a wink. Korum continued via a roundabout route to The Bandit’s Arms, arriving just after the party returned.

The Double-Cross

Korum made himself scarce again after telling the party what had happened. He said he would return in a few minutes as he had something to do before taking the gem for his reward at the Thieves Guild. He visited a local apothecary for a certain poison and its antidote, and applied the serum to the diamond and his hands appropriately.

He picked up the satchel containing the box with the diamond in it and took it to the Guild House. Again, he passed the security locks and questions with ease and was ushered into the Grand Master’s presence. He made sure that they were alone before telling the master that he had acquired the diamond as he said he would. The master was surprised and asked to see proof. Korum opened the box in a way to show that it wasn’t trapped and allowed the master to take a look for himself. The master asked to pick it up but Korum mentioned the little matter of a reward. The master pulled an elaborate box from under his desk and presented it to Korum. It was trapped but none of them had been set to go off, so he opened the box to reveal a beautiful short sword. Korum motioned that he be allowed to wield it to make sure it was a sword of great quality as the master suggested. Reluctantly the master agreed and Korum made sure he made no suspicious moves. Satisfied the sword was of great quality and most likely magical (it had a similar but better feel than his own magical sword) he handed it back. The master’s greedy eyes were now fixed upon the diamond, so Korum made a great show of taking the gem out of its box with his bare hands and passed it to the master thief’s bare hands. The contact poison was now on the master’s hands but wouldn’t affect him for about ten minutes. Korum added that in addition to the sword, he would also like immunity from Guild rules if he is ever back in town. It was agreed upon that he could only operate ‘within reason’. Korum shook hands with the master and left the way he came in. He made his way back to the run-down tavern by a circuitous route to throw off any potential pursuit and then a short while later during the early hours he headed back to The Bandit’s Arms.

The party were waiting for him to arrive and he told them the deal had been struck. The party had gained the sale value of the diamond which Korum said they could have so long as he could keep the sword which Rioja identified as a Short Sword of Quickness. The trade with the Guild meant that they had gained the sword from the thieves as well as the gem’s value. In addition, the party could not be implicated in the theft as they had cast iron alibis, with all evidence clearly implicating the Thieves’ Guild.

Korum told the party he would now make himself scarce as the Guild may be after him if his poisoning ploy had dispatched the master thief. He said he would meet the party at the hoar apple tree five miles outside of town the following afternoon.

The Aftermath (Day 270)

Korum spent the night wandering around the shadows of the city, keeping his eyes peeled in case of recriminations. As the light grew, he saw that some of those present at the Guild he’d noticed over the previous visits he had made there were wandering around nervously, asking furtive questions. He smiled to himself knowing that his plans to disrupt the guild had most likely come to fruition. The new master would thank him in the days to come but he had also made some new enemies.

To make things seem normal, the rest of the party divvied up the sale money and went on a spending spree. Bardan grabbed a beautiful suit of magical plate armour and a new Girdle of Giant Strength to match Korum’s. Arken also bought some magical armour, Rioja grabbed a couple of magical rings (invisibility and inaudibility), and Knil got himself a Bag of Holding. After dallying around for a while they finally collected their belongings from The Bandit’s Arms and headed out of the city to rendezvous with Korum as agreed.

The Return Home (Day 270- 286)

The journey home was uneventful. Tim greeted them warmly and showed what he had been up to. Everything was running smoothly, and a further 1,500 gold had been paid off of Arken’s debt to build his temple. Arken paid his respects to the temple in the local town and paid another large piece of the debt off in addition to that which Tim had paid.

He then prayed to his goddess for guidance on what she needed of them next.

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