Chapter 11:

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Session Number: 155
Date: Sunday 25 November 2012
Venue: Densial's
PCs & Players:

Ariel Sor12 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Arrian Rog2/Clr10 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Calico Drd12 (Yeran) (kills: none)
Lionel Rgr6/Wiz1/ArcA5 (Ash) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal12 (Craig) (kills: none)
Troll Wiz12 (Densial) (kills: none)

XP Awarded: TBA

The party keep following those tracks, which lead to Lormu. lio cannot identify Alonso's tracks leaving town; there is just too much traffic. However, the party do know where Alonso was eventually found: close to a mile to the east of the town. Perhaps the guards might be able to help.

cal, in dog form, waits outside the guardhouse while the others enter. A guard manning the desk arranges for the party to see the Captain in half an hour. At the appointed time, the Captain arrives. The party ask him whether he might spare a man to escort them to the place where Alonso's body was found. He leads the party personally.

"lio," ro says, "keep an eye out for Alonso's tracks on the way." The arcane ranger does so, but shakes his head; he cannot see a cogent trail. He does note that they are heading straight for the cave with the portal to the island. "Interesting," ro remarks.

Fifteen minutes later, the Captain points out the remains of a chalk mark on a tree. "We are in the area," he says, then starts looking around. "Here," he says, pointing out a spot on the ground. "That was where he was found."

lio starts inspecting the surrounds. He asks the Captain about recent weather, who says that it has rained at least twice since the body was recovered. The area is neither well-travelled nor known for outlaw activity.

ro thanks the Captain for his assistance before he returns to Lormu. "Right, sir tracker," she says to lio, "see what you can see. We will stay out of your way." ro and the others sit down well away from the site while lio begins a thorough examination. He quickly discovers many sets of tracks, then sets to work eliminating those that have been made by the Guard. After some time, he is left with two sets of tracks: Alonso's, and one other. The unidentified set parallel Alonso's path for a time, then turn right to intercept. The tracks are accompanied by wavy disturbances that suggest the walker wore a long-hemmed cloak - similar to the sign that Damien described. The tracks converge on Alonso's, then set out back towards Lormu.

Interesting… Weren't there three assailants?

The mysterious tracks disappear beside a tree, with no change in stride or direction.

"Could he have taken to the trees, lio?" ro asks.

"Possibly," lio answers, looking up. "It is not an easy jump, but neither is it impossible."

"Where would you have gone next?" tr asks. lio looks at the tree's boughs. Several venture near enough to other trees to offer an escape path. "Probably that way," he says, indicating a tree whose trunk is twenty feet away. And yet, upon inspection, there don't seem to be any tracks leading to or from the tree trunk.

tr casts Greater Floating Disc and takes to the air, inspecting trees. he doesn't find anything noteworthy. lio eventually finds another set of tracks near another tree, that move twenty feet from its trunk, then stop and return. While they bear the same swishing marks as the first set, other signs indicate they were made by a different person. Their movements suggest that the person was constantly turning around as if looking behind. neither set of tracks have any residual magical aura.

tr searches the tree and finds a scrap of grey material hooked upon a broken twig. it appears to be a fairly uncommon cloth. tr has read about something similar in magical tomes, but the writings did not suggest a specific use.

lio spirals out one hundred feet, looking for tracks. He doesn't find any. He doubles the radius, still finding nothing.

No more tracks to follow? Game over, man. Game over.

What to do? Go back to the island and find the other exits? Return to Lormu and investigate what spooked Alonso? Speak to the King and find out what he knows about the situation?

The party first return to Lormu and seek out the building that Alonso left. Despite Damien's fairly detailed description, they cannot find it. lio leads them back to the site where Alonso was found, then he traces Alonso's tracks in reverse back to the town. They fade out as they approach Lormu.

Stumped, the party approach the local Ashhope Guard and see the Captain, telling him about the tracks they have discovered. tr shows him the scrap of cloth he retrieved from a tree. The Captain doesn't appear to believe the cloth is anything remarkable.

ro asks whether the Guard know where Alonso stayed while he was in Lormu. The Captain does not know. tr describes the mysterious building Alonso was reportedly last seen in, asking where in town it is.

"Ah, now that's interesting," the Captain says. "I have had quite a few reports of a building like this being sighted. It invariably shows up during the night, but is gone when we respond the following day. And every time it is reported, it is in a different place! I am convinced that it is not in Lormu. Certainly the description suggests it is not from here; no other building in Lormu has that architecture. I have never seen it before."

A chill runs up ro's spine as she thinks about a mysterious cottage they recently encountered on the island. It too is said to appear and disappear… might this building in Lormu be Ariel's? Her cottage on the island looked significantly different to the one described by Damien. ro turns to tr. "What about spells that create cottages?" she asks. "Could this be one of them?"

"It doesn't sound like it," tr says. "Those spells usually create a building from the same materials you'd find in the area, so it blends in. It might be some sort of variant, I suppose…"

"Could it have been Alonso's?" ro asks. "He might have been a spellcaster. Perhaps Anton knows something. Excuse us, Captain, we have another lead…"

The party visit Anton's house and knock on the door. Anton responds, but does not open the door. ro does not wish to shout to the whole neighbourhood, and convinces Anton to open the door.

"You?" Anton says. "So you didn't go through the … erm…"

"Oh, but we did!" ro says. "We have come to allay your fears and alleviate any guilt you may have felt. We found a way back!"

ro explains that they intend to return, to free the others trapped on the other side. She asks if Anton has been to the island. He says he hasn't. ro explains the various factions and the ways off the island.

arr asks Anton about the mysterious building that Alonso was last seen leaving. Anton says he doesn't bother with local events.

"You are a scholarly man," ro says to Anton. "Would you like to hear our tales of the island on the other side of the portal?"

"I would," Anton replies. "But first, I have a question for you. Do you know what happened to my books? The ones I was looking at when we last met?"

"No…" ro replies, truthfully. tr and arr successfully feign ignorance.

"Hmmmph. Well then, on with your story."

"May we come in?"



ro and the others spend the next ninety minutes standing at Anton's doorway, describing their experiences on the island. They offer to allow him to copy their map, which he does, briefly disappearing inside and returning with parchment and pencil.

"Did you meet Alonso on more than one occasion?" ro asks once the story is complete.


ro mentions the scrap of cloth, showing it to Anton. Like the Captain, he says he thinks it is ordinary and probably unimportant.

"If you have more information about this island, please bring it to me," Anton says tersely.

"Certainly," ro replies. "Equally, if you gain any information about Alonso or anything about his death, I'd appreciate if you'd let us know."

"Goodbye!" Anton abruptly closes the door.

ro suggests travelling to Ashhope as the next step, to return the staff to King Garen and seek his permission to shut down the island transport system. The party agrees upon the plan. As they are walking away from Anton's house, arr speaks quietly to tr.

"I think we should return Anton's books at some point."

"Sure," tr replies.

"When should we do that?"

"Not now."

"By the way, I think there's something strange going on. I don't think that Elmore is Elmore."

"Why do you say that?"

"I don't know. I know Elmore, and this person seems quite like him, but something doesn't add up."

By the way, Elmore isn't wearing a grey cloak.

tr sidles over to Elmore and casts Spell Theft. He discerns no spells on him to steal. arr casts True Seeing, but the spell reveals nothing more than his own unaugmented eyes perceive.

"You're not Elmore, are you?" arr says.

"What?" Elmore says, bewildered. "What are you talking about?"

ro notices the exchange and moves closer, hand on axe. Elmore seems to relax his features and makes a few adjustments. "Well done everyone!" she says, for it is Ariel. "I'm terribly sorry, I do have a bit of a mischievous nature. I do hope you will all forgive me, but I just find you all so fascinating! And I wanted to come along and see what was going on, really."

ro bristles. "Do you realise just how dangerous your little stunt was?"


"We could have killed you."

"You seem like perfectly lovely people, do you go around killing people without cause?"

"We had cause," tr replies. "You are not Elmore. We are investigating a murder. You could be the murderer."

"So sorry," ari says. "I didn't think of that. Naturally, I don't have anything to do with this Alonso chap. It didn't occur to me that you might think that. I was fully intending to let you know that I was travelling with you before the end of the night. I do prefer to sleep in my own cottage. but I was quite interested to see how long it would take for you to figure it out. It was jolly fun! Well done! Not to mention finding your way off the island. Very clever!"

"Well," ro says, "very glad to get you home. I believe Ashhope is that way."

"Oh dear," ari says, looking most hurt. "I believe that I may be able to be of a little service in your current endeavour, and frankly you all seem to be just the most fascinating group of people that I have met in ages."

"Yes, well, forgive me if I have a distinct lack of trust in you."

"I haven't done anything to harm you," ari counters. "And certainly I would have stood by your side if anything attempted to harm you."

"You have a very narrow definition of trust."

"I can say that if you travel with me I will always back you up. I may not always tell you everything that is going on in my head, or even everything I am doing…"

tr taps the metal spaulder on ro's shoulder. "You'd never get that from me either…"

"I am terribly sorry if I have offended with my behaviour," ari continues. "I didn't anticipate that you'd take it this badly."

"What, so you didn't consider that infiltrating our group, posing as someone else, might smash any chance of trusting you? Moradin's beard!"

"Oh, infiltrate is such a loaded word! I prefer to consider it my little joke."

"Well, if that's how you consider it, I don't think you are going to fit into our group," ro says bluntly. "I will get you to Ashhope safely, but after that you are on your own."

ari looks rather downcast. "That is very kind of you."

ro looks around, counting. "We will be travelling on foot."

ari looks up, excitement on her face. "I can probably help with that, I do have a slightly quicker method of transport."

"What is it?"

"I could teleport us there."

"All of us?"

"Well, not in one go…"

"We will go on foot."

The journey begins. The group strike camp in the forest. ari calls into being her magical cottage, offering its shelter to everyone. ro declines. tr creates a Rope Trick for himself and ro. lio and arr accepts ari's offer. cal sleeps outside, on the front door mat.

The next day the group complete the journey, arriving in Ashhope at midday. cal remains outside the city.

Is there nothing I can say to change your mind to continue to journey with you?" ari asks.

"Give me all your spells!" tr says.

"I'm afraid I don't write them down like you do."

"Why do you wish to?" ro asks. "We are not here to give people a good time, a sense of fun."

"Well, I do maintain that you are quite fascinating and fun, but I do also like what you are doing. It does seem like a jolly good idea. I don't like what is happening on the island and I really was quite impressed with your desire to make a difference."

"How are you with spiders?" tr asks.

"Well, my cottage doesn't allow spiders so I don't usually have to deal with them that much. If there is anything I can do…"

"I will not make any decisions now," ro says.

"I can accept that."

"To the King, then," ro says, nodding to the guards at the gate.

"Are you going to take her with you?" tr asks.

ro considers. "If she is to be believed, her father is a noble in the King's court. And she knows the island. It may be useful to have her there. Besides, I am not planning on saying anything that she doesn't already know. ari! We are on our way to see the King. Do you wish to accompany us?"

"Oh, yes!"

The group make their way to the palace and ask for an audience with King Garen. After an hour's wait, they are led to a room where the King is waiting.

ro talks about the cave near Lormu and the portal within, the island beyond, and its historical function. The king's face suggests that he recognises the description. ro goes on to explain that the portal is acting like a trapdoor, trapping people on the island and that the island's original inhabitants are rather reluctant to let newcomers go, so the king is losing subjects.

"That is impossible," King Garen proclaims. "No one should be able to get through without the staff."

"For some reason," arr says, "the staff seems to have been left in the cave and a number of people have used it to go through. We have recovered it so that others cannot go through."

"Is there more than one staff that you are aware of, your highness?" ro asks.

The King thinks for a moment. "There should only be one staff. I will have to check to see if there is another."

"Here is the one we recovered from the cave, your highness," ro says, removing the staff from the haversack on her back and presenting it to the King. "It is rightfully yours." King Garen takes it, his eyebrows rising.

"People have been arriving at the island from all across the realms," arr says, "which suggests that either the monarchs have lost their devices, or they have been duplicated. It may be wise to check whether you have your own."

King Garen considers the words. "This I will need to check myself. Follow me."

King Garen leads the group downstairs to a large underground chamber. Two guards stand either side of the only door. The King dismisses the guards, retrieves a small key from within his regalia and unlocks the door. "Wait here," he says as he enters. The guards take up their stations, barring the doorway.

Moments later, King Garen returns into view. The guards part to allow him to exit. He bears two identical staffs. "This other should not exist," he says. "My father was there when this was made," he explains, indicating the staff in his right hand. "There should be only one."

"tr," arr says, "are there any spells that could duplicate this staff?"


ro looks dubious. "If someone were to only see the slab with the indentation and not see the staff that activates it, what are the chances that they would fashion an identical device? I have seen two magical staffs that perform the same function but appear utterly different…"

"Someone with the right knowledge and spells could duplicate the staff's function, sight unseen," tr explains. "But it would be unusual under those circumstances to duplicate its form as well. It would be much easier to simply copy the original."

"Your Highness," ro says, "how secure is this staff and how regularly is this room visited?"

"The room is visited less than once a year."

"Is the staff ever brought out for ceremonies?" asks arr.

"No," the king replies. "It has not been brought out for almost fifty years."

"So it is unlikely that anyone saw the staff," arr concludes. "It is more likely that they were working back from what was in the cave."

"I am going to have my wizards take a look at this," the king says.

"What is your position on the continuance of this system on the island?" arr asks. "Is it something that you intend to use and that you value?"

"It is something that could be very useful, but I have had no reason to need it for a very, very long time. It is very easy to reopen if you know how." He pauses, then seems to reach a decision. "I am going to shut down this island. If someone found a way to duplicate the devices or use the island, it has the potential to be very dangerous."

"If it pleases the King," ro says, "we intend to do that anyway; I have promised to do my utmost to free those trapped on the island. If we might be permitted to to use the staff once more, I would be honoured to act as your agent in this."

"I am grateful for the offer, paladin," the King says, "but you have served my kingdom more than enough already. This is no large thing. I will send a retinue to get people home. By your own words, you don't even yet know where the island's other exits are located."

"No," tr says. "Where are they?"

"I cannot disclose that information," the King says. "They are gateways to other kingdoms."

ro considers the group's next move. Perhaps it is better to pass on the responsibility of dealing with the island to a representative of one of the kingdoms involved in its inception. Truly, her group has enough else to get on with. There is the matter of Alonso's death, for instance, and the ruelock. But might they find out more information about both of those mysteries on the island? The only lead concerning the ruelock that they have uncovered in months was on the island. And they never asked the inhabitants of the central ruins about a shadowy, inky entity…

plus ro has said to multiple parties that she will return with any information her party discovers. can let people know that King Garen of Ashhope is going to be taking steps to close down the island and get everyone off to the appropriate lands. ask king to use the staff one more time. he will be sending guards to the cave with the staff. he will provide a writ to allow the party passage to the island. he expects that it will take 2-3 weeks to close the island. ro asks whether the king is happy for people there to know that he is sending a delegation. king please keep it quiet. king makes to leave, asks the party to wait for a few minutes. he returns with a stone. king this is a scrying orb. it only works once you activate it (tells party the activation word). if you get important information, use this to tell us. a trusted servant monitors the other end. the staff won't be in place for over a day. king nods and leaves. servant escorts party out.

tr wants to check in on Mithral Mug and things beyond. all go, including ari. it has 6 small rooms, one of which is permanently allocated to tr.

tr explains the pub as being owned by a friend of his who gives him a permanent room. friend is elven. ro rolls her eyes. ari an elf that owns a dwarven pub? that's got to be a bit unusual. this is exactly why I wanted to travel around with you. so interesting! tr she married a dwarf, that's why. ari oh, that would be how you know her, because, of course, you're a dwarf! tr yes. ari it's all starting to make sense, isn't it? ro next you're going to tell her that you're their son? ari their son? the owner of the pub and the elf had a son, and that's tr's friend? ro no, that's tr. tr what? ro I don't know, I'm not making up this lie! ari a lie? tr this close, and you had to ruin everything… ro look tr's obviously not a dwarf. ari well I do believe that people's cultural identity is something that they can choose. ro great. cool. can we go now? I don't like her.

tr I'm going to visit my room would anyone like to come with me? anyone but ari? ro I think I'll be fine in my room, with ari. tender, dwarven ale!

tr visits home and checks up on things. arr goes with him. tr would rather not go check up on the arcanites by himself. only got a day or two before they should check in with the monastery concerning the teacher's deliberations. arr and tr go to Kharag Monastery. teachers are still deliberating; there is some disagreement between the teachers. They have agreed to continue talks and ask the party to reconvene in two weeks. arr chooses to depart, thinking of going back to Avarriel to further research the ruelock and travelling as the scent takes him. he will go to tri first and set out for Avarriel. comes back and says goodbye to everyone. ro so when will we see you again? arr there are some ruelock leads to be followed up. I'm going to start in Avarriel and go from there. It is easiest to travel through the tower network so I will always leave word with Elondel as to where I am and what I am doing. fare thee well. ro gives him an unexpected hug.

next step is to go back to the cave. with ari? ari give me a chance. I think from what I've seen of you and your goals that I'd be a useful and worthy part of your team. ro can you heal me? ari no. ro well then you're not going to be a useful part of the team. we are not just a sightseeing expedition, on the lookout for interesting things. we have things to do. things that only we can do. tr actually ro, with the assumption that ari is on our side and not anyone else's, if going back to the island ends up in a stand up fight, we are going to need a bit more firepower. maybe a lot more. I suspect that these people in the middle are all mages and we are going to need a whole lot of magic to take them down. I can only get so many of them at once. ari why don't I travel with you to the island and if you don't like me, or find that I'm not useful, or have some deep objection to my character, we can part ways. ro thinks. ro you may come with us, ari. you have travelled around the island, perhaps you have information that we do not. ari (exuberantly) certainly I shall be definitely as absolutely as helpful as I possibly can! ro right. just one thing. when we meet people there, we do the talking. because if you talk to people like that, it's over. ari I can talk to people differently when I want to. lio she has already proven that - she can talk as Elmore. ro yes, explain that, will you? arr one of my little pastimes, I am terribly good at disguises. I do love them. ro magical disguises? ari Oh, no, that would be cheating! magic is lovely in its own way, but it's certainly not sporting when it comes to disguise.

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