Chapter 17: Come Hither

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Session Number: 88
Date: Sunday 27 February 2011
Venue: Fergus'
PCs & Players:

Arrian Rog1/Clr8 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Feren Rog9 (Yeran) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal9 (Craig) (kills: none)
Tomen Rgr9 (Ash) (kills: none)
Troll Wiz9 (Densial) (kills: none)

XP Awarded: TBC

The party pack their gear and head back to Aquilla, discussing what they might do next. Arrian mentions the submerged tower. Rowaine wishes to keep the party focused on tasks that are important rather than merely interesting. She suggests that they revisit searching for the cause of the missing people.

Rowaine, Arrian and Tomen register their presence aboard Aquilla with the harbourmaster's representative. Feren goes on ahead and relets their rooms in the Roasted Goat. The group fall into patterns:

  • Feren: Spend the day weapons training and gathering information on slavers. At night, networking at the thieves' guild.
  • Arrian: Service to his temple and weapons training during the day, spending evenings at pubs gathering information about the disappearances with a specific bent on anything related to Taryn.
  • Rowaine: Keep in contact with Lord Fallowhay, ask him how her group might further serve Aquilla. Split her time between service at Moradin's temple and whatever Fallowhay suggests. Keep informed about any more information regarding missing people.
  • Troll: Work at the library.
  • Tomen: Buy a trawler and assume the role of a fisherman, working off Dock 7. Frequent pubs, getting to know the local fishermen and guards. Gather information regarding missing people. Live completely separately to the others, communicate through Troll at the library should he need to.

Over dinner on their second evening, Arrian reveals that Taryn has disappeared some two days prior. Some of his friends have been asking around, looking for him. With no indication that the guard even know about the incident yet, the party choose to begin their own investigation. Arrian asks Feren to find Taryn's address, and whether he had any connections with the thieves' guild. Rowaine has many questions: Who is Taryn's boss? When was he last seen? Did he turn up for work? Arrian asks whether Rowaine would be happy entering Taryn's house. This is not a proposition that sits well with Rowaine, but she is happy to knock on the door and see what happens. They decide to to this in daylight hours. They head to their beds. Rowaine begins a vigil in her room.

As dusk deepens, Tomen pulls his boat in. The last to return, he secures his boat and walks back up the wharf. About thirty yards ahead he sees a man, apparently drunk, staggering along the wharf towards him. Tomen calls out. As the gap closes he sees the dazed expression on the man's face. The man veers towards the wharf's edge. Tomen springs forwards and grabs the man's shoulders before he topples into the water. The man struggles, seemingly intent upon jumping into the water. Tomen slaps the man and his eyes snap back into focus.

"Who are you?" the man asks, his eyes showing alarm. "Help!"

"I'm not going to harm you," Tomen says.

"What are you doing?" Tomen releases his grip on the man's shoulders and he nearly falls in.

"You were acting drunk," Tomen explains. "You were about to fall into the water. I stopped you."

"What am I doing here?" the man asks. "Who are you? What do you want? Leave me alone! What am I doing here?"

"I was just saving your life, but if you want me to leave you alone…"

The man walks off, glancing behind him. Tomen notes that his clothes are of average quality but in good repair, and that he bears no obvious arms or armour. Tomen lets him gain some distance. He then steps into the shadows, changes his appearance using his Hat of Disguise and follows.

The man enters a tavern, The Fluffy Lamb. Tomen changes his appearance again and walks in after him. The man sits at a table with two others, deep in hushed conversation. Tomen recognises one of them as a fellow fisherman. After about twenty minutes the group leave.

Tomen returns to the wharf, wondering what just happened. He shows his face and fishing permit to the guard, who raises an eyebrow but admits him. Once out of sight, Tomen assumes the form of an aquatic elf, lights a sunrod and dives into the water where the man was heading.

Underneath the dock are a large number of pipe outlets that point aft, dumping waste in the city's wake. As he nears the outlets he can feel the current from their discharge. It is dark and eerie down here. The hairs on Tomen's neck prompt him to climb back out. He decides to meet Troll come daylight and arrange a meeting.

The following morning, the others gather for breakfast. Rowaine says that she will make contact with Fallowhay to see whether he can provide Taryn's address. Troll will look for any record of Taryn in the library. Feren will have an early drink at the Copper Coin and ask the bartender a few casual questions. If that doesn't turn up anything, he will have a closer look at the corner where he lost him the first time.

Tomen meets Troll at the library and arranges a meeting outside Dock 7 at dusk. Rowaine asks Fallowhay for Taryn's address, then goes about her normal duties. An aquatic elf servant visits Moradin's temple at lunchtime with a note from Fallowhay. On it is written an address.

Rowaine finds Arrian and they walk to the address on the note. They knock on the door. A man opens it - not Taryn, but the landlord of the building. Rowaine and Arrian learn that Taryn simply left almost two weeks ago, with no clues as to where he went or when he might be back. Once the rent went into arrears, the landlord broke into Taryn's room and sold his belongings. The room has been relet. Taryn lived here alone for around three months. The landlord is of the opinion that he was "just another bloody transient if you ask me," and knows of no guard involvement to date. Rowaine and Arrian identify the market at which Taryn's possessions were sold and leave.

The pair quickly find the merchant the landlord identified, a buyer and seller of general wares. When asked about the recent transaction, the merchant is initially defensive, saying how robust his procedures are to ensure all is above board. Rowaine says that they might be interested in buying it all back; might she see the goods? She pulls out a gem as proof that she can pay. The merchant eyes the gem and begins collecting items on the counter: clothing, bedding, cooking utensils, a book. He also points out a couch. He says that there was also a short sword of average quality that he has already onsold. Rowaine and Arrian do not see anything particularly valuable, even sentimentally, amongst the items. Arrian says that they won't be buying at this time but gives the merchant five gold for his trouble.

On the way back to their temples, Rowaine and Arrian talk. They had hoped that the items Taryn left behind might offer some clue as to the nature of his departure - was it planned, unplanned or suspicious? Unfortunately, they can make no such conclusions.

The day passes. At dinner, Troll says to the others that Tomen has requested a meeting this evening. They quickly finish their meal and head towards Aquilla's stern.

Outside Dock 7, Rowaine tells Tomen of the finding of Taryn's address and their experience there. Tomen tells of his encounter with the apparently drunk man. He describes how he slapped the man, and how that seemed to wake him from his reverie. Tomen did not recognise the man. He goes on to describe the underside of the dock. He saw nobody waiting underneath, no creatures. Arrian thinks someone, maybe something, is fishing for men. Rowaine asks Troll whether the man could be under the influence of a spell, rather than alcohol. Troll says that it is entirely possible. At Rowaine's request, a disguised Tomen checks whether the man is currently in the Fluffy Lamb. He is not.

Arrian wonders whether there is some sort of 'come hither' spell cast from the water. If that is the case, the caster may not be choosing their victims, rather, they are simply ensnaring any unfortunate soul who happens to be nearby. Rowaine confirms that Tomen did not hear anything besides the man, from either above or below.

Rowaine expresses concern that whatever is responsible has been denied its prey and may try again, and that they should be worried about another incident tonight. She eyes the two guards at the dock's entrance and suggests using the yokes to gain access to the dock.

Rowaine will stay on the dock, aiming to intercede should someone else fall afoul of the strange enticement. Her human eyes would be of little use below water anyway, despite the near-full moon. She will drop a lit sunrod into the water if she wants to attract the others' attention. If she dives in herself, she has either been lured, or it is very scary up top!

Troll casts Mage Armour on Rowaine. She and Feren consume potions of water breathing. Rowaine gives Feren and Troll each a yoke from her haversack; they tether them to their belts with a short length of rope. Tomen assumes aquatic elf form. Arrian stays behind. They retreat out of sight of the dock, then jump into the ocean.

Feren ferries Rowaine inside the wharf area. She lets go and carefully, quietly climbs up onto the unlit wharf.

"Right," she says to Feren. "See what you can see. Be careful! If nothing happens by midnight, we'll call it off. Come get me. Remember the sunrod!" Feren flashes a smile and dives down. Rowaine looks around, familiarising herself with her surroundings. She starts quietly walking along the final half of the dock, scouting and trying to get warm.

Tomen leads the others to the area where the man was about to leap. Feren starts searching while Tomen ventures towards the wharf's end. Troll sees the other two head off in different directions and shadows Rowaine above. Rowaine starts a near-constant Detect Evil at deck and below-deck level.

Tomen feels a tingly sensation and feels a mental urging but his mind shakes it off. He looks around, on the alert, but sees nothing. He notes where he is and shoots past Troll, out of the water and onto the dock.

"What's going on?" Rowaine whispers at the sudden explosion that is Tomen.

"There's something down there," Tomen says. "I felt it in my mind!" Troll breaks surface.

Rowaine immediately concentrates belowdecks but senses nothing. "Did you see anything?"

"No."

"We shall all go in together." She dives in and grabs Troll's ankles. "Stay in sight of each other!" Tomen and Troll descend.

Feren continues searching, unaware of the others' absence. There is plenty of structure and piping, but nothing really catches his eye.

Tomen leads Troll and Rowaine back to the area where he felt his mind attacked. He signals for Troll to Detect Magic. Troll reports that he senses nothing beyond what he expected to see: a faint aura on the timber of Aquilla. Tomen continues swimming underneath the wharf. Rowaine signals to Troll to take her back above. Troll does so.

"Leave me on the deck, just in case something goes wrong," Rowaine says when her head breaks the surface. "Go, I'll be fine. Stay with Tomen and find Feren!"

Tomen again feels the oily grasp enclose his mind; this time it envelops his will. Suddenly, the world makes sense. He turns and sees a wide pipe opening in the distance. He really wants to go inside…

Troll dives down and spots Tomen disappearing into a pipe. That doesn't seem very smart to him. He jets out of the water.

"Quick! Something's got Tomen!"

"Let's go!" Rowaine says, diving in and grabbing the back of Troll's belt.

"Feren!" yells Troll, underwater. Feren hears the voice, recognises it and scoots in its direction. Troll swims into the pipe after Tomen.

Rowaine feels an insistent urging try to slip into the cracks of her mind. She closes her eyes. "Moradin," she says inwardly, "thy annealed shield protect thy servant!" The insidious presence disappears.

Rowaine has a mind like a greasy bowling ball. Um.

Tomen continues swimming down the pipe. Rowaine sees Feren approach with an unusual, dazed expression upon his face.

"Hey, Rowaine, lets check out this pipe! It looks like a good place to go."

Unable to talk, Rowaine beckons Feren closer. Feren is torn between obeying the command and obeying his desire. He extends an arm to Rowaine, who catches it and pulls him close. Her other arm quickly cocks and reverses direction, punching Feren in the nose. The dazed look remains on Feren's face.

"What did you do that for? Let go!" Feren pulls free and makes for the pipe entrance. Rowaine grabs his ankles. Feren pushes farther forward on the yoke and twists, trying to dislodge the paladin, but cannot. Arm over arm, Rowaine climbs up Feren's body, taking little care about what she grasps. She grabs Feren's arm and wrenches it off the yoke. They coast to a stop.

In the pipe: five by five :-)

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