Chapter 08: Bright Lights, Big City

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Session Number: 18
Date: Sunday 10 May 2009
Venue: Alain's
PCs & Players:

Emily Ftr2/Rog2 (Tammi) (kills: none)
Enok Rgr4 (Alain) (kills: none)
Krag Clr4 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal4 (Craig) (kills: none)
Vor-wrek Mnk4 (Densial) (kills: none)

XP Awarded: TBC

The party pick up the pieces from their recent encounter and continue towards Carthenage, the city distantly visible on the coast to the north. Rowaine appears somewhat more gung-ho than normal. Ghosts? Bring them on!

Some hours later they strike farmland at the southern outskirts of the city. The group stop and debate what to do next. Should they enter the city together? Piecemeal? Do only some enter, leaving the remainder outside? Does the group bypass the city altogether?

Rowaine expresses concern regarding their dwindling supplies and volunteers to enter, suggesting that she is the best candidate to dialogue with any religious organisations they might visit. Emily offers to come along, mentioning that she knows a little about the city - her father had business here. She could also stand some "girl time".

Enok considers Rowaine's proposition and frowns, suggesting that the task might be better approached with stealth and misdirection - something Rowaine is not particularly known for. She tends to stand out. She tends to want to stand out. Enok also expresses his desire to remain in the outlying wilderness, mentioning some sort of "call". He will enter the city if the best good is served in doing so.

Vor-wrek is adamant that the youngsters stay with him.

Krag? He is finding it difficult to formulate a conscious thought, much less express it in words. It is a small mercy that he has not wandered off along the way.

Finally, the group decide to enter the city together.

Denz: "Really? I didn't think you'd all go into the city… I didn't think you'd stick your hand off the road…"

Shortly after resuming their journey, the hair on Enok's neck stands on end. He suspects the group is being followed. As they pass close by to a small stand of trees he whispers his fears to his friends, says he will join up with them later on, and peels off, disappearing into the undergrowth. Godspeed, Enok…

As the party draw closer to the city, urban smells spook Krag. It takes some careful reassuring from Rowaine to convince the near-instinctual half-orc to continue farther.

The guards at the city's south gates seem supremely uninterested in the party's appearance. In fact, no-one seems to notice them. As they pass through the open gates the full magnitude of the city's presence hits. The smells, the noise, the colours, the hugely wide streets, the sheer number of people… More than any of the party have seen in one place ever. It is almost overwhelming.

Rowaine leads the group along the main street and spots a building that can only be a church - to Pelor, a deity that she knows is on good terms with her dwarven patron. They all enter.

Inside the church is a small chapel where a small number of worshippers are gathered. The group settle themselves at the rear of the chapel and Rowaine quietly moves forward, seeking someone of authority. She finds a priest and they exchange pleasantries. He says that there is indeed a temple to Moradin within the city and provides directions. He also explains that while slavery is indeed legal within Carthenage, it is not widely seen as a "good thing" and certainly his order does not condone the practice. It is limited to certain wealthy sectors of society. Individuals may for various reasons sell themselves into slavery for a certain period of time, but have no right to force it upon anyone else. Of course, the shadier side of society participates in the industry with far fewer scruples… The more vulnerable, such as those found at orphanages and schools, were often easy targets for those seeking sources of illegal slaves.

When asked whether the church of Pelor took in orphans itself, the priest said that it did, but to be wary… In a city of this size, many parties may lay "claim" upon such individuals (rightly or not). It may be perceived as somewhat "unseemly" were certain types of people be seen to be taken in by certain organisations. All in all, it appeared to be a minefield of political nuances - areas in which the party have little experience!

Rowaine asks for the priest's advice. He mentions the Glascia orphanage, run by Mrs. Glascia, a widow of a famous and wealthy adventurer husband. She is known to take in needy individuals from time to time, although usually only through some well-to-do contact.

The priest also tentatively mentions that he discerns some disability about the group, pointing out Rowaine, Krag and Anassia in particular. The group thank the priest for his help, donate 2 gold and leave.

The party follow the directions to Moradin's temple and enter. The layout is similar to Pelor's temple, space being at a premium in the city. A dwarf priest notices the party's entrance and all but chokes on his own beard at the sight - his position not improved when the party respond in perfect dwarven, genuflecting in the right manner!

"Mor'din," stutters Krag to the perplexed dwarf.

The priest blurts out something and turns to fetch a superior.

The party is greeted by Fhaschalk, a venerable dwarf priest who seems less troubled by the group's incongruity. He leads them to a small meeting chamber and offers dwarven ale. Emily partakes and is quickly intoxicated by the heady beverage. Fhaschalk confirms the information regarding the Glascia orphanage and also comments upon the group's apparent disabilities. When Rowaine talks of their journey and of a strange ancient road, Fhaschalk speaks up:

"Ah! The Salted Road! Why, you were very lucky. Very few ever see it, even when searching for it. The Salted Road is a way of passing through a cursed area, in this case, an area once inhabited by an evil elven necromancer. It is not a real road; rather, an interdimensional conduit. It is rumoured that various people, gypsies and such, are able to find it. There is more than one road, as I recall."

Rowaine continues, describing their encounter with the ghost-like entity. Fhaschalk turns his attention to the party's ailments, saying that the local priesthood could help. Turning to Anassia, he reveals that her condition is both caused and mitigated by the necklace she is wearing.

"It contains powerful magic. It was fabricated with strong protective dweomers, but more recently has been enspelled with other arcane magic - magic that both "poisons" the girl and turns aside any other magic cast upon it. I cannot penetrate its own protection, alas I can say no more about it. Perhaps Norrel Stangum, arcane sage at the Carthenage Main Library, can say more."

In return for the temple's aid, Fhaschalk asks for the party's assistance:

"If you can spare the time, we have a local … problem … that we could use your help with. For the past few weeks, some unsavoury types have been causing trouble with the local good folk of the area - members of this church, and others. There has been some theft of property, some fighting and assaults, that sort of thing. Nothing too serious as of yet, and as a result it is too small a matter for the local law enforcement to worry themselves over. But I'm afraid that it will escalate into something more, and some good soul will end up killed. We believe we know where they are - in the sewer system beneath the city streets."

The party eagerly agree to the task, and are put up for the night. Rowaine dreams shadowy, misty dreams of a magnificent winged steed - a huge dark-grey roan… But is it a horse exactly? It is hard to see, it is so dark…

The following morning, the dwarven priests tend to the party's wounds and disabilities. The adventurers eat a hearty breakfast and venture forth into the city markets to resupply before considering how to deal with the subterranean threat…

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