After returning from the Frontier and reviving the magic within Dorian's ring, the TIP seeks reward for their difficult quest but sees dissent form within the ranks.
We’re at Shoreline Manor after resurrecting J. The TIP is deliberating between what to do upon our return from the frontier, and we begin with Rinn deliberating with Dorian’s ring in tow.
The manor has been renovated and Jeremiah is showing us the new additions to the house. He brings us breakfast and the mail, which is from house Sidara. Rinn opens the mail, and it’s a package from their parents. Rinn’s parents are curious, or very angry, about how Rinn has been able to accomplish all of these great feats and still be at school at the University.
Ren asks Rinn what’s in the letter. She explains what it’s all about, and Rinn lets them know about her parents and an invitation. She acknowledges the note, but a more pressing matter emerges with the ring that is also on Rinn’s hand.
We make our way to house Del Dega, and the estate has been magically fortified to resemble a fortress. High walls have been erected around the perimeter of the space, and more guards are visible on the grounds. We are led inside by Claire, the squire, and make our way to Vincent Del Dega. Vincent is practicing his fencing as the TIP enters. Ren gives him the ring, which fits to Ren’s finger. She gives it to Vincent, who retrieves it through this foil. He puts it on.
“You know, this is probably the last magic item in the world. How was it?” Vincent asks.
“Dorian seems to be in a pretty bad state about things. Isn’t sleeping so well.” Ren says. Dorian yawns behind. They don’t mention what happened to J.
Victoria strolls behind us and gazes at the group, clearly unimpressed by Vincent’s persistence to entertain these charlatans. “You have other appointments, each of which is more important than this one.” Vincent gets to the point,
“So what are you guys loyal to? Just the money?”
Dorian says no, Ake says yes. Vincent clearly has things on his mind, evidenced by the enhanced fortifications.
“When you acquire status such as I have inherited, people make moves on you. I’ve got a job for you, but I need to make sure that I trust you.”
Dorian nods that he can be trusted, and Ren reiterates that she’s loyal to the group as a whole instead of money.
Vincent motions for the squire and fencing instructor. Only Victoria, Darien, Vincent, and the TIP remain.
Ake goes to Victoria and introduces himself. “Hello, Miss Victoria.”
“Yes.” Victoria does not want to interact.
“And your little one?”
As Ake and Victoria chat, Dorian watches at the corner of his eye this interaction.
“I’ve been told you have interest in temples and the Black Temple.”
Victoria shrugs this off, and points at Dorian and the rest of the party.
“There are people moving against my house, and I need to have it stopped. Of course I don’t know who to trust. You did give me the last magic ring. I just need to make sure that you’re reliable.”
“Well, have we not been reliable?” Dorian replies.
“You have been so far. You’ve been paid. You’ve done work. I’m prepared to be a bit more generous. There’s a group of mercenaries, you may be familiar, the Black Bell, that is seeking the possession of an item that we would like. It’s a stone, a geode, that glows blue.”
Dorian asks about how it works. “Is it magical?”
“It’s priceless. Worth a lot of favours in the right court. Handle it carefully.”
Dorian asks about its safely.
“Not sure. That’s why I’m getting you to do it.”
“So this is information that Victoria could not get for us.” A quip to his former lover.
“We’ll prepare a dossier for you, early next week. It will have the requested information.”
Ren asks Vincent, “Why are the walls so high now. Been a while since we’ve been here. What’s changed?”
“The winter’s brought dangers. One can never be too careful.”
As we head out, we are guided by Claire, the squire. Ren tells Claire to sneak out from time to time, and Claire gasps. She asks about the adventuring party and what they’ve been upto. We tell her about who we’ve killed and saved, then depart.
Dorian seeks information about his affliction. He thinks about who to seek, and decides to go see Simon. Ake considers his relationship with the mystics.
Ren is accosted by two Tong goblins, who request her presence to the Crimson Sail. She agrees, then heads into the Tong stronghold.
At the Crimson Sail, the ogre and goblin companions greet Ren, with whom they’ve become quite familiar with. They wear winter clothing and are very well bundled up. Ren keeps things professional and goes upstairs to chat with Carson.
Another Tiefling is upstairs as Ren ascends the stairs. The tiefling notes Ren, then quickly leaves, leaving Carson with the half-orc lackey.
“I’m going to cut to the chase.” Carson says, laying out the next mission. There’s a group of adventurers lodging at the Twin Spears, a fey bar in Malkara. They’re meant to be driven out of town by any means necessary.
Ren notes this and isn’t so interested in deeper question. She doesn’t seem to want to know what the implications of this might be. When leaving, Carson stops her before she can head back down,
“Don’t worry, you’ll be rewarded.” Carson says.
“I’m not interested in your rewards.” Ren replies.
“I think you might be.”
J goes to the circus, and is met by various performers. She sees a routine in play where an Allosaurus is balancing a gnome atop its maw. The gnome slips though, and is engulfed in its gullet. J and the beast trade glances,
“Drop it.” J says.
Reluctantly, the gnome is spat up by the dinosaur. The gnome, J recognizes, is Kumala Pangol.
“It’s been a while.”
“Oh, Jean! Oh my God, it’s so good to see you! I thought you were up north doing that thing. And you’re a hero now! A paladin.”
“I mean, I was north for a bit. But that was Eugene.”
“No, no, I get it! That’s part of your bit. You. Jean.”
“Don’t you notice anything about me that wouldn’t be like a Paladin?”
“Now that you’re a big-shot Paladin, what are you, patronizing me?”
The allosaurus glares in the background, thumbs up and feathers fluffed up.
“Geez, Jean, it’s been forever.”
“We met… like while we were toddlers.”
“No no, we did the whole bit together”
“Didn’t Eugene tell you about her twin sister? That’s me.”
Kumala rubs slobber from her face. “Oh! I’m so sorry. I embarrassed myself in front of my favourite dinosaur. Hi! I’m Kumala. Why are you at the circus?”
“I wanted to see if there was any work to be done, or just to check out the critters. Druid stuff.”
“Oh, yeah! We have a druid too. She’s pretty cool. Everyone likes her, except for the people that don’t. So what do you wanna do? Work. See the animals. See the inside of this, here?”
J stammers and doesn’t quite know how to react.
“It was a joke! Sorry sorry, let’s check things out.”
Kumala guides J through the pens. There are numerous creatures throughout in cages, with cursory bars that don’t seem to impede the animals. It’d be more for keeping people out than keeping animals in.
A figure throws fish to the animals, as Kumala and J approach. She stops dead as they approach.
“Hello. Are you…”
“Yes. Why are you here?”
“I was hoping that I could visit some of your critters, or to see if there was any work to be done?”
The figure eyes J suspiciously, trying to size her up.
“I don’t know if the animals want you here.” Agitated sounds emerge from the background.
“I don’t suppose you have any sense of why?”
“You’re not part of this.”
“Part of what, the circus?”
“No. You’re not part of this.” She divines some minor runecraft to assess J’s motivations. It doesn’t seem to be effective.
J, as a spiritual druid, isn’t connected to the circles of ritualistic druids. She is confused by this.
“You’re a puzzle. You’re agitating them.”
Kumala chimes in, “You’re being weird.”
J says, “I understand. I wouldn’t want to disturb any of your animals. If that’s how it is, I’ll be on my way then.”
Kumala says, “You should come out tonight! Our show is opening.”
“Can we have some tickets?”
“Ooooooooh, tickets are expensive. I’ll see what we can do.”
Dorian and Ake head home and eat, after which Dorian seeks Simon. He heads to Giacomo’s door, then barges in the bed with Ake in hot pursuit.
“Why are you following me?” Dorian asks.
“I was hoping to consult with Simon regarding my sleeping problem.”
“As was I. I know for certain that my problem has to do with demonic problems.”
Dorian seeks to play a game of chance, but Ake does not know about this human convention.
“Where are you Simon? Are you about?” Dorian asks the empty air around him. A figure slips out from the shadows,
“Of course I am.”
“So, I don’t know if you’ve had any contact with the demon that cursed me. Are they a compatriot of yours?”
“I see you’re having pleasant dreams.” Simon replies.
“How do I get rid of this curse? Do you know?”
“Would you trust me if I did? I can certainly set you up a path.”
“I’m prepared to verify whatever you have to say.”
“The solution to this particular curse, well, it goes back two and a half years. A certain man. Sir Wilhelm. Conqueror of the city.” It appears that Wilhelm has been influenced by Nurzhan as well.
Dorian is intrigued by this. Very intrigued. Simon smiles. “Thought you might be interested in this.”
“He seems to have a good reason not to like me. Now I need to try to figure out a way to talk to him. Could we dredge up some history?”
“Now what about this demon’s deal?”
“They call him the Demon of Nightmares.” Simon seems to hold any additional information back. After a moment, he asks Dorian, “Do you have a coin?”
Dorian hands him one and Simon etchs a sign of the Conqueror on one side. It’s warm to the touch, “That will get you in the door.”
“Thank you.” Dorian meeps nervously.
Simon turns to Ake.
“Have you heard anything about elves that can sleep?” Ake asks.
“I assume one must sleep to dream. In truth, I’m not much of an expert.”
“I’ve not slept before. It’s a new experience to me.”
“That doesn’t surprise me, but I’m afraid I can’t help you much more than that.”
“You’ve already helped me.” Ake leaves the room, in a pleasant state, as Jeremiah is startled with Simon’s disappearance.
Rinn seeks Simon in the kitchen, looking for their own answers about the demon’s motivations to interfere with the TIP.
Jeremiah excuses himself as Rinn asks, “So, what’s been up with everyone else?”
“Whatever do you mean? I’ve made certain arrangements, all to your benefit.”
“I’m not in the business of giving curses. But I’m also not in the business of kissing and telling.”
“Will there be any side effects to this?”
“Not too sure what you mean by that.”
“All these deals. Why are you helping us?”
“I take my payment in fire, and chaos, and blood. And there’s plenty of that in everyone’s future. Everything ends in fire and blood. Starts that way too. Turns out that if I give you a bit of an edge, there’s that much more bang.”
“Okay. That’s… forboding.”
A rapping on the door interrupts the conversation. The Bagsville-Sackineses are at the front are in a huff. Dorian pats Angela Bagsville-Sackins as she leaps into his arms, bawling. Gregory is storming around, eating the contents of their pantry.
Dorian pulls up a stool and waits for Gregory to calm himself down.
“Exiled! Cast away from my own house. By that damned butler.”
“Who? Jonathan Sorrow?”
“That damned staff of his. Tells me to go out to the town. Tells me to go to the neighbours. Damn him and his ways!”
“So what happened?”
“The shadows came alive. There were trees. It…” Angela begins bawling again.
“Listen! I don’t have the words to describe this thing! You know, I’m educated! And I don’t have the adjectives and nouns for the horrible things we saw. Don’t you understand?”
“I’m afraid I don’t.”
“Look! He conjured terrible magic. He, well… he fucked the house! Yes! Fucked! Told us to get out of the city. He told us to get out.”
Dorian tries to peel out the information, but Gregory is in hysterics. It’s hard to get useful information out of him.
“We’ll assist once the full remnants of our party return. Make yourself at home first.”
Dorian gives the TIP the rundown. He looks to have the party reconvene the next day to investigate the house. Ake and Rinn have the chance to meet Angela and Gregory. But some members of the TIP have other ideas.
Ren sneaks out into the night as Dorian seeks the party’s attention to help with Sir Wilhelm.
As Ren sneaks out, the entire party is made aware. Barbarians aren’t the most conspicious characters, and despite her best efforts, the party follows. J turns into a stealthy creature and slinks behind the rest of the group.
Twin Spears is our destination. Dorian looks to see what Ren is upto, and gets typical Ren nonsense. He seeks her goals, which she gives in a simple decision about killing or not killing this random group of adventurers that’s holed up at the Twin Spears.
They make their way to the fey bar. The bar is occupied by the Intercourse Arquebuses. Ren is motioned to the group by a goblin with Tong connections.
Ren notes the group. A group of warriors in a corner awaits. Peter Stanley, the disintegrating sorcerer that has a penchant to spill marbles when nervous is there. A female magical user sits beside him. A male cleric bearing the markings of the God Saric is there as well, and finally, there’s a figure that Ren recognizes. There’s an orc dressed in leather armour with an impressive longbow. It’s Rodrigo, with whom J, Ren, and Vani had seen before while defending a fortress from dragons! Ren beams and enjoys drinks with them.
Ren tries to convince them to go on an adventure to drive Jonathan Sorrow out of the Bagsville-Sackinesses house. The confrontation would be bloody and violent, and would hopefully kills two birds with one stone.
The cleric catches Ren’s deception. They discuss over a drink at the bar. He introduces himself as Marcus.
Marcus and Ren have a conversation about giving and protecting others. Ren is ashamed that she was trying to deceive the party - which seems to have good intentions and motivations - to do something needlessly risky. It turns out that the party has also been contracted by house Del Dega to act as guards of the estate.
Ren gathers some insight about the nature of protecting others, particularly from this holy person.
The TIP intercedes once they discover Ren’s motives. Her play would end up driving the affairs of multiple estates into chaos, which Dorian would not be into. Ake seems more receptive to Ren’s motives. Rinn hopes that these events don’t lead to violence.
The TIP begins to deliberate about what’s to come. Ren is insistent that, with the help of the group that’s in the corner, they’d be able to overthrow the Tong and take the city back. Dorian looks to quell Ren’s feelings about revolution, because of how large and vast the criminal organization is.
Ren bawks at Dorian’s cowardice and seeks to convince him that a life behind walls is not a life worth living. They seem to be at an impasse with what to do, with Ren becoming increasingly desperate while being in the clutch of the Tong.
She scratches her wrist frequently while talking with Dorian, betraying the shackled bond she feels when considering her relationship. The group fails to note if this is a magical chain or something psychological in nature, but one thing is clear - Ren is afraid and doesn’t know how to act to respond to this.
Rinn tries to consul Ren, who introduces the dragonborn to the achievements of the other group. She tells Rinn about Rodrigo the dragonslayer, and proudly remarks the good that Rodrigo had done by killing a dragon. Rinn is deeply uncomfortable about this, and asks Ren why she thinks this is a good thing. Ren talks about protecting others being something that is good, but a question that she doesn’t consider is who is being protected.
<<This leads to a long conversation about morals. Ren wants to break social order and get rid of bad stuff. Ake wants to break social order because structures suck. Rinn doesn’t want the situation to come to violence. Dorian wants to protect his image and understands the insanity of all-out war with the Tong.>>
<<Eventually, they reconcile. Dorian heads to the group to chat with the party.>>
Dorian and Marcus eventually come to the consensus that the party will be protected within the confines of Shoreline Manor, much to Dorian’s chagrin. Having the party at Shoreline manor will likely alert the Tong and put the TIP in more trouble, which seems to be their lot in life.