Sunday, 9 March 2014

Paulix's Solo Side Adventures

Paulix the thief set off on his own a few weeks back. His player is due to leave the pool of players I will have available but, as he has some important roles still to play, I will be running some PBM with the player to keep things rolling just in case he returns to us any time soon.

The details below bring him up to date with the rest of the party, and allows him to join the final session at the broch.

It is quite a long session write up, but does contain clues for the rest of the players as Paulix shared the information he has gathered so far with the rest of the party...

The Adventures of Paulix (5th February - 5th March 2014)

Striking out Alone - Moonday 22nd Quattrober (Day 27) – evening

Paulix, subterfuge more his forte, decided to head off to Castleford to try to find out more about the Iron Ring and the names given to the party by the captured bandit in the moat house. He grabbed his personal effects and stored treasure and headed off into the encroaching twilight; his magical cloak drawn tightly around his body hid him from all but the most eagle-eyed observers.

He headed to the temple of Sol Invictus on his way out of the village in order to exchange as much of his loose coin into a promissory note that could be cashed in at a temple in Castleford. He waited until it was dark and then, when he was sure no-one was around, started on his journey towards Abiswick.

The celebrations going on in the Plough and Stars meant that the party did not miss their companion until the following morning when Hallan found a note and pouch of treasures to be shared with the rest of the party in his ruck sack.

Well Met on the Road to Abiswick - Moonday 22nd Quattrober (Day 27) – late evening

After an hour or two passed trudging through the deepening mud, Paulix had a sudden feeling that he was being trailed. He tried a few manoeuvres to throw off any possible pursuer, but could not quite shake the feeling. When he was a few miles out from Staneford a figure stepped out from the undergrowth before him, hands held out in a placating manner. The stranger dropped his hood and Paulix recognised that the person who had been trailing him was Elmo, the village drunk from Staneford. Elmo asked whether he could accompany him on the road as he had completed his task in Staneford and had been requested to investigate the Temple further afield. He said that he wanted no share of any treasure, or a ‘big axe’. He no longer slurred his words.

Paulix warily accepted his offer of companionship upon the road and the duo carried on their walk towards Abiswick in mutual silence. The thief eyed up his new companion as they travelled along deep in their own thoughts and noticed that beneath the muddy well-worn exterior he was a strapping man who wore a quality suit of chain armour and carried a fine shield and a very nice battle axe, as well as an expensive looking dagger, a long bow and arrows, and a back pack full of wilderness survival gear. He also noticed that he trod in a way that he rarely left any prints, and he was able to grab some fresh food on the go (mushrooms, berries, nuts and small game). Paulix picked up a few survival tips from him, as well as how best to travel without leaving much of a trace.

After a couple of hours Paulix began a conversation with his new comrade. He asked him how he got into investigating the Temple and where he learned his skills. Elmo responded that he was a sworn man of the Viscount of Loidis - his job was to keep an eye out in Staneford in case of a resurgence of the Temple. He said he was in contact with various other people around the areas of Castleford and Nulb, but now that Staneford was deemed to be safe (Rufus’ and Burne's tower had been completed, the moat house had been nullified, and a few traitors had been wheedled out) he was now free to move onto other things. He had been informed that Paulix and the party were to be trusted now, and he would like to head to Castleford with him in order to speak to the Baron Tancred and Lady Mathilde about his findings and for further orders.

A Camp in the Wilderness - Moonday 22nd Quattrober (Day 27) – late evening

The pair made reasonable time cutting through areas of ground that would be hidden from ordinary travellers’ eyes, but they still did not quite make it to the wayside inn. Elmo directed Paulix off the road and erected a small lean-to to get them out of the rain. He lit a small, smokeless fire and cooked a decent meal before he asked Paulix which watch he would like to take. He then shook out a waterproof sleeping sack and a small woollen blanket.

Paulix decided that he would take first watch and took the proffered blanket whilst Emo wrapped himself within the sleeping bag. Paulix made light conversation with the ranger-type and found out that his older brother Otis was involved in the demise of the Temple last time round, along with the Canoness Y'Dey and the Viscounts of Loidis and Veluna. As a result, his family were trusted by the Thuringians for their discretion and dependency, and were asked to become the eyes and ears of the anti-Temple faction in Staneford. The Thuringians had not treated them badly so far, but maybe he would change his mind about them if their methods were to change. Anyway, it was far more important at the moment to put-down the Temple than overly worry about their overlords.

He further mentioned that Otis and Y'Dey moved onto somewhere else about two months ago, so he was asked to take over the role his brother left behind and Y'Dey was replaced by Terjon. He mentioned that he had some information for the lords in Castleford that he needed to pass on, and he should get some information in return that he would be able to share with Paulix later. He responded that he could get the location of the Temple for the party, and would aid them with details of a few more contacts if the party wished to attempt to infiltrate or attack it.

At that point, Elmo wrapped himself in his sleeping bag and closed his eyes. He catnapped during Paulix’s watch, so the thief did not really get an opportunity to take a peek into his knapsack. At just after midnight Paulix woke Elmo to take his watch and then took up position in the branches of a nearby tree. Elmo offered Paulix his sleeping bag to keep warm and suggested that he had nothing to fear from him.

Dreams in the Night? - Tirsday 23rd Quattrober (Day 28) – early hours

Paulix accepted the sleeping bag but still stayed up the tree for safety’s sake. He quickly fell asleep whilst Elmo kept watch but nothing untoward happened through the night.

Around 3 o’clock Paulix woke to hear hushed voices coming from the vicinity of the fire; Elmo seemed to be speaking to someone/thing. Paulix cracked open his eyes but could not see anyone else there. As soon as he opened his eyes though, the conversation stopped and Paulix very quickly nodded off back to sleep. Was it just a dream?

Paulix got a good night's sleep despite spending it nestled up a tree, and was woken to a hot cup of 'tea' and some grilled sausages and bread. He surreptitiously checked over his gear but found nothing had been touched (the little traps he had set did not get triggered). Elmo reassured him he touched nothing and that Paulix could trust him.

The Seven Stars Wayside Inn - Tirsday 23rd Quattrober (Day 28) – late morning

Elmo erased all signs of the previous night’s camp and said that the best way forward would be to make for the wayside inn called The Seven Stars, on the Abiswick road, and ask about for any strange goings on before heading cross-country to Castleford.

The rain continued unabated, but Elmo thought that there may only be a day or two more left before the current storm blew itself out, if the previous strange weather event was anything to go by.

The duo continued to trudge through the heavy rain for about two or three hours before they passed the lightning blasted willow tree that marked the final rise before the dell in which The Seven Stars was located in. The two adventurers passed over the final rise and spotted the inn just a short way off - the sign hung up outside had the seven stars of the constellation of The Plough painted upon a dark blue background.

However, things seemed a little quiet at the inn; smoke still rose from the chimney but there appeared to be no movement. As they moved closer, Elmo whispered to Paulix to get into the shadows as he sensed something was not quite right. Paulix pulled his magical Elfin cloak about himself and faded into the woodland background.

As the companions approached a small copse opposite the main entrance they noticed that the doors to both the inn and stables had been smashed off their hinges and there were a few small pools of blood around. They could also see that there were drag marks in the mud leading inside the inn and stables. From inside The Seven Stars came the sounds of gruff voices. Just outside the door, the mud showed signs of a couple of sets of very large footprints.

Paulix strung his bow and the pair of adventurers cautiously approached the entrances to the inn. Paulix headed for the stables whilst Elmo made his way to the main building and took a peek inside. Paulix saw that the wagons and wains were smashed beyond use and the beasts of burden and riding horses had all been slain. He then made his way towards his companion who was sadly shaking his head. Paulix just managed to steal a look inside the inn before Elmo ushered him away. What he saw inside reminded him of an abattoir; except the bodies were not of pigs and cows but people. The pair of ogres was so intent on what they were doing that they did not see the adventurers spying on them.

The adventurers edged silently away from the scene of carnage and made their way back to the copse where Elmo explained to Paulix that this was a lot worse than he imagined and that they needed to get to Castleford as soon as they possibly could.

Fleeing the Ogres - Tirsday 23rd Quattrober (Day 28) – afternoon

Paulix agreed with Elmo that they needed to reach Castleford as soon as possible, so taking Elmo’s advice he slipped behind the ranger and followed him as rapidly as his legs could carry him through the water-logged terrain. They travelled cross-country for about five hours before Elmo called for a rest. They grabbed a brief uncooked meal whilst Elmo erased as many signs of their passage that he could.

The companions had just started moving again when Elmo pulled Paulix into the cover of a large gorse bush. A small sounder of wild boars burst through a thicket and scampered away westwards as if fleeing for their lives. An hour or so later, the same thing happened but this time a parcel of deer exploded from the undergrowth. Again, there was no sign of any pursuit, but the animals were frightened for their lives and, again, were headed in a westerly direction.

Around ten o’clock, the adventurers crossed the bridge that would take them towards the West Gate of Castleford. The docks were bustling, with goods and people being moved around. The duo passed through the busy dockside district and, avoiding the crowds as much as they could, arrived at the West Gate itself. The heavily banded portals were closed, but light could be seen flickering beyond.

Castleford - Wodensday 24th Quattrober (Day 29) – morning

Elmo rapped upon the gates but was told that they will not be opened again until daybreak by order of the Viscount. He turned to Paulix and said that he knew of a small tavern that they could stay in in the dock area where nobody would ask any questions. Paulix accompanied him to The Pike, and a nod and a wink got them seen to a room without anyone obviously noticing them. The adventurers were brought a filling meal of pottage and bread and charged a silver piece for the lodgings. Elmo said that it would be best that they shared a room but he did not expect any trouble over night as he stayed at the tavern quite often.

After the stresses and strains of the previous few days, Paulix slept very soundly. He awoke to see that Elmo was dressed and ready to leave. Elmo said that he had errands to run but if Paulix needed to contact him urgently he just needed to drop a line and a silver coin to Flim the innkeeper and he would get back to him within a few hours if he was still in town. He then mentioned that it would be best if they entered Castleford separately during daylight hours and added that he would be back at this particular tavern tonight before he exited the room.

Paulix left it half-an-hour before he made his way into Castleford. The guards on the gates were far more alert than the last time he had visited the town and he was questioned as to his business. Paulix quickly made up a tale of needing to collect his fee for guarding a caravan a few weeks back. He was let through but warned to avoid The Wynde if possible as trouble was brewing there.

Robert’s Manse - Wodensday 24th Quattrober (Day 29) – morning

The thief thanked them for their advice and made his way to Robert the merchant’s abode. He had to explain who he was a few times to Robert’s guards before being admitted to the audience chamber. He was greeted warmly by the merchant and after a little small talk was asked the reason for his visit. Paulix mentioned that he wanted to store some goods and thought that Robert offered the safest place in Vannin. The merchant was touched by the trust instilled in him, but not enough to not drive a hard bargain for the storage; three months up front at a silver coin a day and the box, which he charged five silver coins for, could be opened if Paulix does not show one month after the payment ran out.

After the deal had been struck, Robert warned Paulix about the trouble brewing in The Wynde. The locals seemed to be becoming more agitated as the Thuringians were pressing for something, and at the same time a couple of factions within the community were becoming more belligerent; fights that usually resulted in a broken limb or two were now ending with fatalities. As a final word, he asked Paulix not to go there if he valued his life.

The Hidden Dirk - Wodensday 24th Quattrober (Day 29) – early afternoon

Paulix thanked him for the advice but headed directly to The Hidden Dirk. The streets seemed to carry an air of edginess to them; something was definitely bubbling under. The tavern was a lot busier than the last time he was there with Bow. Along with the barkeep and his serving wench there were two tables of three and several others who were drinking alone.

Everyone looked up as Paulix entered the tavern but returned to their hushed conversations straight away. Everyone looked furtive and discussed their business in lowered tones. Paulix made his way to the bar and carefully made himself known to the tavern keeper. The thief was recognised and asked to return the following morning at sun up when he would be less busy. Paulix managed to negotiate the closure for three gold coins; expensive but if the rumours were good, then the coin would have been very well spent.

A Small Shopping Spree - Wodensday 24th Quattrober (Day 29) – late afternoon

Paulix finished his bowl of gruel, bread and a jack of ale to keep up appearances and headed out into the late afternoon drizzle; the intensity of the rain had diminished overnight and it looked like things might improve a little over the coming days.

The thief looked up and down the street as he pulled his cloak tightly about himself. He headed towards the Artisan’s quarter where he needed a little work doing. He found a couple of suitable workshops and ordered what he required. One item would be ready the following afternoon but the other would take a few days.

Back to the Pike - Wodensday 24th Quattrober (Day 29) – sundown

Paulix timed his exit to perfection and ducked through the closing portals just as they swung shut. The guards reminded him that the doors would not open again until sun up, but the thief just shrugged and carried on towards the rendezvous point.

The small tavern was quite busy, with every table taken. The bar keeper winked and nodded Paulix upstairs. Paulix followed the tavern keeper’s gaze and made his way to the room he had the night before. A quick rap on the door was followed by Elmo’s gruff response as to who was there. Paulix responded that it was him and the door popped open a crack. Elmo quickly eyed the thief and then let him into the room.

After a bit of small talk and an enquiry into what Paulix had been up to all day, Elmo then removed a small crystal device from a pouch that was hanging around his neck and placed it onto the table between them. He then lowered his voice conspiratorially. He had been up to the castle and spoken to the Baron Tancred and the Lady Mathilde. He had given them the news of happenings at Staneford, the moat house, Paulix’s details about Nulb, and of the encounter with the ogres and the strange behaviour of the boars and deer, as well as some other details. He had also mentioned that Paulix had been working alongside himself and the lords Rufus and Burne. Paulix was a little unsettled by this, but his antipathy was negated when a small pouch was placed onto the table beside him. He later found out that it contained a small gem, a handful of gold coins and an equal amount in value of silver coins (a value of 200 silver coins in total). Elmo said that the lords had taken this all in and had passed on some information of their own.

Paulix’s ears pricked up at this point. He was told that the Temple was situated just a league or two to the south-east of the village of Nulb, hidden deep within the dense woods and fens. It was well guarded and not to be tackled lightly, if at all, at the moment. Movements to and from the Temple had increased in volume over the last month or two, and it looked like something was afoot. Nulb was also experiencing a shift in the volume of river traffic going to the nefarious village. However, the baron Tancred was onto this and would be raiding the pirates’ lair in Castleford very soon. There was also going to be a massive military campaign to take Nulb under the protective wing of the Thuringian Empire.

The final piece of information that Elmo offered before he packed away his anti-scrying crystal was that the problems within the Wynde would also soon be dealt with. Their informants had discovered that the Temple had infiltrated the Iron Ring and this was the seat of the latest insurrection. The Temple followers within the thieves’ guild were stirring up the populace against the town. Tancred could deal with the Iron Ring in his own way, but this growing band of malcontents was disrupting the normal way of things. If Paulix could infiltrate the Iron Ring and get some names that resulted in arrests, the payment would be substantial.

The adventurers then headed down to the tap room where they partook in a hot, filling meal and a few small jacks of ale before retiring for the night.

Introduction to the Iron Ring - Thunorsday 25th Quattrober (Day 30) – dawn

Paulix woke just before first light to the sound of constantly dripping water. The rain had eased up and was now falling as a light drizzle. He looked around the room and noticed that Elmo had gone. He spotted a small piece of parchment on his comrade’s pallet and picked it up. He read through it quickly and found out that Elmo had returned to work for the baron and would not be around for a few days at least. Word could still be left for him at the Pike or at the main temple in the Upper Quarter. If something very important was found out he could report directly to the castle and ask for Sir Guy quoting a certain password. He then destroyed the note in the inn's fire as requested by Elmo.

The thief returned to the town very early and queued up with the newly arrived merchants, travellers and farmers for entry. The guards recognised him but asked him his business all the same. They listened to the same story and wished him luck getting his money out of the notoriously tight-fisted merchant guild – how else did they become rich if not through dishonest means?

Once inside the West Gate, he made his way across town to the Talehangers’ Inn. He left a note for Hallan, "that dude who was here a couple of weeks ago with arms the size of tree trunks", in a sealed scroll tube with the innkeeper. On it he instructed his comrades not to start poking around in the Wynde or to look into the wherewithal of the Iron Ring. He left a few silver coins with the innkeeper to keep it at the front of his mind.

He then exited the inn by the back entrance, quickly looked about and cautiously made his way across the market street to the Wynde, where hugging the shadows he arrived unseen at the door to the Hidden Dirk. He rapped out the secret knock given to him the day before and was quickly ushered into the darkened room.

Only one other person was present in the room other than the barkeep and Paulix, but he was not noticed until a second lantern was lit. Hooded in such a way so that only the lower half of his face was revealed, a tall, thin man stepped forward and introduced himself as Purloin. Paulix shook his hand and sat at the table opposite the master thief. The innkeeper took up watch at the tavern door.

Purloin asked Paulix who he was and the adventurer spilled out his cover story that was almost true – he had got fed up being a teamster and being on the wrong end of ambushes, so he had joined a mercenary band for adventure and riches. Unfortunately, even though he and his band of hired hands had completed their allotted tasks of clearing out an old moat house ready for use as a watch tower by the local Thuringian lords at Staneford the pay was miserly. The conversion to Sol Invictus by one of his band as well as encounters with men that rose again from the dead was all too much, so he now wanted to turn his hand to proper thievery in an urban environment.

Whilst Paulix told his tale, the master thief watched his every move and mannerism. He did not interrupt at any point but when Paulix had finished his tale he simply nodded and asked how he had come by the ring on his finger. Paulix recalled the story of young Tom being captured by the denizens of the previously mentioned moat house and giving it to him as a sign for a favour. If that favour could be steady work for the Iron Ring then Paulix would consider the debt well and truly paid.

Purloin considered Paulix’s words and said that he would be in touch. He asked where Paulix was staying or where he could be contacted as he had a job for him to prove his commitment and loyalty.

Getting to know Castleford - Freyasday 26th Quattrober (Day 31)

Paulix rose early the following day and carried on learning the streets around Castleford; the back alleys, the dead ends, the short cuts, and from street level scouted out the roof top routes that could get him out of trouble if he ever needed it. It turned out to be quite a boring day in the end but he had learned a lot.

At the end of the day, he called in on the artisans’ quarter to pick up the first bit of the work he asked to be done and paid for it. He exited by a different gate and then made his way back to the docks and The Pike via an alternative route.

When he arrived back in his room he noticed that someone had been in there. Nothing had been touched but he noticed a small scrap of paper tucked beneath the edge of his lantern. He read it quickly and decided that it would be best that he met with “P” the following morning in the market street.

Purloin’s Tasks - Godsday 27th Quattrober (Day 32)

The following day dawned overcast but the drizzle was beginning to ease. Paulix shrugged himself into his half-dried clothes and set off to the market street to meet his contact after a quick breakfast.

After wandering up and down the market for just under an hour he was approached by a street urchin who ushered him into a side alley. At the end of the alley he spotted the familiar shape of Purloin. He approached him cautiously and was greeted with a firm hand clasp. The master thief mentioned that he had a task or two for the would-be new joiner to the guild to carry out. Purloin gave Paulix details about two jobs he wanted done and said that if he carried them out he would be one step closer to joining the guild. Paulix agreed to the jobs but just as he left Purloin asked that he hand over Tom’s ring; if he performed his allocated tasks satisfactorily then he would earn his own iron band.

Paulix spent the rest of the day casing the properties he was to rob and memorised the best routes to and from the hits. As he would need to carry these jobs out over night, he had to stay within the confines of the town overnight. He found a warm, dry spot he could sleep in and then set about his tasks.

Both jobs ran smoothly and he got back to his hide-away with the loot that he was asked to lift.

Joining the Iron Ring - Sunday 28th Quattrober (Day 33)

Luckily for Paulix, the rain eased further overnight and the following day dawned with just the lightest of drizzles. He shivered a little and then headed back to the market street for his next contact. Again he was approached by a contact, this time an old, blind man who led him to a small tavern at the edge of the Wynde.

Purloin was in there sat at a table in the darkest corner. He greeted Paulix and suggested he sat down and ate the meal presented before him. After Paulix had finished eating, Purloin handed him an iron ring and told him to put it on. He was now an affiliate member but still needed to prove himself with one or two more errands. He stated that Paulix could rob a rich man’s house but was he quick enough on his toes to rob a street trader? He was given his marks and then left to his own devices for the day. Purloin wanted the jobs completed before the town gates were closed for the night.

Paulix swiftly cased the locations for the robberies and then moved in quickly. The first market trader did not notice him pocket several items of his stock and his confidence increased. Unfortunately he became over confident and was caught trying to pocket a small item of jewellery. The merchant’s heavy caught up with the thief and soundly beat him before he could make a clean get away. He would have to be more careful in future.

He made his way to the rendezvous point arranged with Purloin earlier that day and handed over all of the last two days’ takings. Purloin nodded appreciatively and handed him back his share of the haul; it was quite a valuable amount. He gave Paulix a few tips for future jobs so that he did not run into the kind of trouble he encountered today and said that he would be in touch the following morning.

Paulix returned to the Pike for a well-earned rest and a long soak in a warm bath. He mulled over the last couple of days and congratulated himself on the feats that got him into the thieves’ guild.

Earthquakes and Lightning - Sunday 28th Quattrober – around midnight

Paulix woke from his deep slumber with a start. The room vibrated violently and a rumbling sound was heard from deep within the bowels of the earth. He leapt from his bed and headed outside the tavern to see what the commotion was all about. In the distance, in the direction of Nulb, he could see a flash of incandescence that lit up the night sky. It lasted a few minutes before it faded back to darkness. The streets around the docks buzzed with excitement and a little trepidation before everyone headed off either back to their beds or a tavern to talk about what had just happened.

The Search for Gauk - Moonday 1st Quinquember

The following day dawned bright and sunny. The rain clouds had finally blown away. Paulix waited around in the Pike until Purloin joined him at his table. He said that he had an important job for Paulix that would entail tracking someone down and reporting back on his findings. The fellow to be tailed was named Gauk who was a suspected member of the breakaway faction of the Iron Ring who they had been tailing for the last month or so but had since lost.

After being given a description and a quick overview of his movements for the last few weeks Paulix realised that Gauk was the weasel faced man that they had met in High Beeches; a member of Simeon’s gang of ruffians. He had been trailing the party for the past few weeks, most likely to steal the amulet for his nefarious purposes, and he was most likely the furtive figure that had been seen leaving quickly on a few occasions too. When Purloin asked Paulix to try to lift a precious item from him if possible, Paulix realised the described item was the amulet that had been stolen from Johan a few weeks ago. However, Paulix did not let on he had this information already.

Purloin also mentioned that the item might have already been used judging by the light show and earthquake the previous night but it was still needed by his associates. If he could also bring back Gauk’s head then that would be a bonus, but he warned Paulix to watch himself as Gauk was quite an adept in the thieving arts. The return of the amulet or Gauk’s head would be well rewarded, but if it is only information on Gauk’s whereabouts that would be fine.

The master thief left Paulix to his own devices and said that he could be contacted at a certain street corner via the hooker stationed there. She would be around that area for the next week or so, which should be enough time for Paulix to complete his task.

Paulix began his search by asking around all the places he had investigated over the last few days, crossing many palms with silver. However, the only clues other than what he already knew were that Gauk had left town a few days ago and headed off through the South Gate, possibly in the direction of Nulb.

The thief asked a few of his new guild associates about his old party of adventurers and he soon found out that they were in town but planning on heading out to some old druid’s tower in the wilderness to the south.

Paulix decided that he would catch up with his old companions and tell them his news and see what they had found out in the interim. He passed by the artisan’s quarter on his way back to the Pike and found out to his delight that his other items had been completed. He paid for the items and then returned to his room for an early night.

When he was sat at his usual table and had time to think through his options, he realised that Elmo had not been in touch for a while. He left a note with Flim the tavern keep that explained who Gauk was and his relationship with the Iron Ring and the Temple. He also mentioned that Gauk had an amulet in his possession and that he was going to scout the area of the recent disturbance for any sign of him as he had not been spotted in Castleford since before then.

Searching for Gauk - Tirsday 2nd Quinquember

Paulix rose late and took a leisurely stroll through town to pick up a few more supplies before he headed towards the broch and a rendezvous with his old party.

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