Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure: “Scourge of the Slave Lords”
Never a dull moment, it seems. We arrived back in Homlette to a bustle in the tower. Men seemed to be moving Sir Rufus’ things out, and he himself asked to speak with us at the inn.
(Handed over Wimple Frump, and now he’s someone else’s problem.)
It’s mostly good news. Sir Rufus has been recognized for his efforts in building the fort, and he’s being promoted to a post – I think in Veluna.
The rest of the news is more of an inconvenience for us. His replacement officer is bringing a mage who wants to use Lydia’s room…which means we have to find a new place for all our stuff – principally the mirror. We’ve had a pretty sweet set-up, being able to pop all over the world at will…but life is made of adapting to new circumstances. Besides, Master Osler has been more than gracious keeping our stuff locked indefinitely in one of his rooms. A less personable inn-keeper might have dumped it while we were off kidnapped for a month.
So…we need a secure place as a new base of operations. Ezekiel is busy convincing Agnar and Usin to go look after the pets for the night, and to give us news if any slavers discover their back door has been breached. Part of me thinks they must know we’re coming…but then why leave the way so open? I mean, it was guarded by gnolls of all things!
Lydia will portal the rest of us to Veluna, since that’s the most likely place to have a temple or vault where we can store our Vast Wealth (until we decide what we’re actually going to do with it. Been kind of busy. Does Elmo need a new axe?). Heiron will stay here to “protect Miss Lydia”.
I think Ezekiel was hiding behind the corner watching us. He said he was going to the Temple of Rau with Mikael to find a place to keep the mirror…while Raven and I went to the city keep to ask about using the vault. He said.
The guards at the fortress were very suspicious of a monk (foreswear earthly wealth) and a ranger (only own what you can carry on your horse) asking about storing treasure in the city vault. So…I’ve been stretching the spirit of the law lately…but they really couldn’t seem to understand that we might be asking on behalf of a super introverted friend of ours. And to be fair, Ezekiel is the one still hoarding harpy feathers.
Just when I was ready to give up, they told is which door to go to and who to ask for, and let us through the gate. We found the place with no trouble, and found out there are actually standard fee rates for this sort of thing. When we said we were adventurers, the clerk asked if we were the “Northern Four”…apparently some group making a name for themselves. I couldn’t tell exactly if it was a good name or bad.
He gave us the run-down (pay ten percent to reserve your space, but after that you don’t have to pay again unless you withdraw everything, and then want to place stuff in the vault again).
We thanked him and went to find Ezekiel…except Raven got stuck talking with the guards out front again. I’m sure there’s a rule against distracting the guards on duty, but there are also rules against discussing demonic rituals, and Raven was ignoring them all. Ezekiel finally showed up before things got really out of hand.
Mikael and Ezekiel didn’t have much luck at the Temple. The head priest was understandably unenthusiastic about storing an artifact that wasn’t actually a holy relic to Rao…besides the fact that the Temple is warded against teleportation (handy, if contrary to our current needs).
Ezekiel then checked out the Arcane Academy, AKA the Library, but our one contact Mr. Prettypebbles was out at the moment. Sounds like Lydia is just as happy they didn’t do business with those “misers”…
Someone thought Princess Aliana had been staying in Veluna, so Lydia tried to contact her for references…all I heard about the result was, “No she’s not in Veluna.”
We met Lydia in a quiet alley, and she led us through the air back to her room in the tower. Heiron was standing guard over a disheveled young man who seemed just returning to consciousness. He says the young man made the mistake of trying to mug Miss Lydia, and unceremoniously returned him to Veluna before Lydia closed the portal.
We gave report to each other, and the consensus seems to be that we arrange with the fortress vault to store most of our treasure there until this whole business is dealt with. Whatever we don’t take via portal, Sir Rufus has offered to supervise in the caravan he’s taking to Veluna tomorrow.
Which means the only thing we haven’t settled is the mirror. It is super useful, but it must be locked in a secure place that we can still access…if we’re going to continue using it as an escape hatch, of course.
[written in Lawful Good]
Master Osler said he might have a solution to our problem, but we had to wait until the tavern cleared of all the other customers.
Finally, he led us to the cellar and a secret door in one corner. It’s left over from the times of trouble, when the town elders needed secure places to meet and prepare their defenses. We could still come and go from the Pomarjch, but we’d have to be discrete about when we emerged from the cellar.
Ezekiel says he can put a glyph of warding on the area in front of the mirror – or on the mirror itself, maybe? – so that anyone who doesn’t know the password or the technique or something won’t be able to move it. He told Master Osler the trick, so he’ll be safe around it…but I’m also relieved it’s in a secret room within the inn. Not like someone’s going to trip over it by accident while trying to fetch beer or something.
Heiron, Raven, and Ezekiel carried it over tonight, so there’d be less chance of anyone observing us. I helped – I “supervised.” It’s mostly framed in with wood at the moment (Sir Rufus’ men let us use some boards, which was very nice of them) so it’s more set to travel on a moment’s notice. Taking it back to Geoff will still be a headache, I imagine.
[written in Common]
I suppose Lydia would come with us if we go back to Geoff? Doesn’t sound like she has any family to speak of, and nobody in Greyhawk she wants to see ever again… Ezekiel and Raven keep talking about this temple-fortress they want to build, and discussing where a good site might be (not a lot of unclaimed land around). Last we heard, someone was killing the goblins in Ertulli…but it still might be nice to see it again… And I haven’t been home home since Reapfest when I was fifteen or sixteen… Not that I miss the old place particularly, but Father must be getting tremendously old by this time, and I would like to see how Mama’s doing. And Alpheus has been married so long… Merciful heavens, a lot can happen in five years.
Sudderheim – city of the Slave Lords.
[expansive map sketch, with scribbled labels]
Agnar and Usin reported nothing unusual when we rejoined them in the caves – though I think they were both glad to see us, for different reasons. I think Agnar’s chaffing at the lack of a battle.
The stairs from Frump’s throneroom lead up to an earthen tunnel, and finally out a hole to what seems to be an island.
It’s almost like a lump of pudding in a bowl…cliffs rise, surrounding us, across the waters of a blue lake, while a mountain rises in the middle, obstructing our view in that direction. The tunnel entrance is unobtrusive, but not exactly concealed…the immediate surroundings are huts and gardens, such as you might find in any human village, while to the south lie fenced fields. People were working the fields, but I wasn’t close enough to see chains or any other obvious signs that they were slaves at all.
After much discussion, three of us set out as scouts – Raven, Mikael, and me. Lydia made Raven invisible, then slipped back to the mirror so she could keep an eye on everything. I belted on the sword that makes me invisible, and put my chainmail in my bag so I wouldn’t be quite so noisy. Mikael turned into a snake and hid in Raven’s pocket.
Raven led the way, tugging on my hand, and we headed toward the largest landmark – the huge, square city up on the hill (I don’t think it’s quite the top of the island’s mountain, but it’s close). As we came closer, we could see piers off on the north-west coast of the island, where merchants could dock their ships. Just as Wimple Frump told us, litters traveled from the pier to the gate of the city, with (presumably) the merchants hidden behind the curtains. The porters carrying the litters all wore scimitars, and I can only assume they work for the Slave Lords.
As we approached the city gate, three litters were just arriving, too. The guards on the gate inspected their warrants and permits (such bureaucratic slavers!) and issued them all passes to enter the city, then waved them through. Raven steered me between two of the litters, and we tip-toed past the guards without anyone being the wiser.
Inside the gatehouse there’s a beggar sitting to the side, which I thought quite odd – but he didn’t seem to notice us, so I guess he’s not there for magical detection…and then we followed the merchants through another set of guarded doors into the city proper (there’s another gate on that end of the gatehouse, but they didn’t open it at that time. Possibly operated by winch inside the wall? So far, guards mostly in pairs – with four armed porters on each litter).
Inside the city itself, a colorful crowd mingles. Orcs and ogres wander freely, while humans from all over – Bakluni, Sea Princes, whatever – walk around in their ostentatious best. I can only assume these are the customers of the Slave Lords, and that whoever’s in the business of buying and selling kidnapped and traumatized villagers is both very wealthy, and likes to strut that wealth.
Raven led us down the main street for a distance, until somebody next to us went sprawling on the ground (it wasn’t me; I didn’t feel anyone trip over me). After that, Raven had us duck into a side-street and we wound up in a more residential area…quiet, well-tended, with an occasional errand-boy carrying notes to butlers and such.
Once, Raven told Mikael to explore a door tucked into an alleyway, and a snake appeared on the ground. He slipped through a crack in the door – and a moment later, whipped out again, pursued by a young man with a broom. He says it smelled like an inn, though he didn’t get to explore very much. (We managed to evade the young man, and he lost interest and went back to his business.)
There seem to be a number of inns around, plus a money changer (might come in handy, since the Slave Lords have their own currency), a blacksmith, and a couple mysterious buildings that will require more investigation. The city itself has watchtowers on each corner of the wall, and sentries at regular intervals. Also patrols that circle the city, though I haven’t figured out the pattern yet.
Finally, Raven found us a back alley that led to a single door – with plenty of dust on the threshold. It seemed to line up with a door I’d noticed on the other side of the row of houses, where a door seemed neglected.
Raven got the door unlocked, and we took a quick look around…no one around, no food in the cupboards, and plenty of dust on all the floors and furniture. If I had to guess, I’d say no one’s been here for a couple months – though they’re likely just on vacation a business trip or something, since they left plenty of personal belongings here (not to mention the beds and furnishings). Still, it seemed like the best temporary base of operations, so I drew my short sword to become visible, and we sat around to wait for Lydia to notice us…so she could then bring the rest of the party to us.
(The house also has a trapdoor in the master bedroom that seems to lead to the sewers. Potentially useful for our purposes, but what did the owners want it for? Isn’t a guarderobe usually tucked away from the living spaces?)
Well, great, great, great. First day isn’t even over yet and we’re already –
So Lydia brought the rest of the party through to our empty house – including all the animals, which Mikael insisted on bringing for some reason. Then we headed out to make a circuit of the city, investigating the places of interest Raven and I had noticed.
I guess it was while we were checking out this circular building at some cross-roads near the center of the city… Raven (still invisible) climbed the outer walls and discovered an amphitheater of some kind, with a couple guards milling through the stair-step seats around the central platform. (Why guard an empty amphitheater with “Do Not Enter” signs posted on all the doors??)
Anyway, I don’t even remember how it started. We were saying something about being sneaky, and Mikael told Agnar that he wasn’t. Sneaky, that is. So Agnar threw his cloak over his face and worked his eyebrows…and while “sneaky” isn’t what I’d call it, he did look dark and intimidating…but Mikael said he looked stupid.
Then Ezekiel dragged us off to check out a big marble building labeled “Temple of the Earth Dragon,” and some square, stone buildings like vaults with iron-bound doors and guarded portcullises leading to walled courtyards. We figured out the guards circling the city travel in squads of ten plus a commander, and only move clockwise (they must have set routes – bureaucratic slavers!).
We found an armory and some kind of arcane building, and several taverns, and finally returned to the hideout.
And that’s when Usin asked where Agnar was.
It’s true he’s not exactly the subtle type…but now he’s gone and none of us can remember seeing him leave. Raven thought if he decided to ditch us and grab a drink, he might go to “The Fighting Man’s Haven” (right by the central cross-roads), but he didn’t see him there.
If he decided to betray us to the Slave Lords…he knows this hideout. Then again, he never came this far while he was working with them, he didn’t seem particularly sold to their ideology, and he shouldn’t have any personal contacts that he can go to. Back on the first hand, it’s possible all the paranoia about them scrying their minions is true, so they would know him… On the other hand again, it’s been some time, and no one has showed up to arrest us (we couldn’t even bluff our way out of that, because none of us have the right papers to be here).
I know no one cares when they call me short and high-strung…but none of them is my best friend. If my best friend called me names, what would I do? More to the point, what would Agnar do? What has he done?
Raven drew the circle to attract Lydia’s attention quite some time ago. Likely, she just got tired of sitting in the cellar of the Welcome Wench, and we’ll have to wait until she finds an opportune time to slip down there again.
But on the other hand…
[more detailed sketch of Sudderheim, with labels on the buildings]
Well I don’t intend to sit making horse faces at the others any longer. We act as though nothing can happen without Lydia, or Agnar, but the day is still young and we still have some Slave Lords to kill.
If worst comes to worst, there’s a building just south of here with a “Closed by order of the city” notice on it, which could probably serve as a headquarters if necessary. I don’t remember discussing it in front of Agnar, and he’s not exactly the sharpest scalpel in a doctor’s kit. I might suggest moving our camp there, since Lydia will be scrying us when she gets back, not our hideout…although I don’t know what we’re supposed to do with a wolf, a worg, a giant hyena, a carnivorous ape, and a giant ant (Buffy is small, and easier to smuggle around…also she could be a useful scout, and doesn’t eat nearly as many dead gnolls).
Cross that bridge later. There’s an opening to the sewers here, and I think I can convince Mikael to help me explore it. Good to know what our options are – and it’d be really disappointing to find the exit all blocked up by grates just as we’re trying to escape through there. The others are all worried about the smell or something, but fresh-air people like Mikael and me know you just tuck a sprig of pine behind your ear, and it goes away…or at least it helps. Surprised the Monk doesn’t know about that… True he doesn’t know how to sit on dust without disturbing it, either…odd…
Find the previous entry here.