Nearly all of Loudwater was gathered today in celebration of two groups of heroes. The Sacred Blades and Pilgrims of Oreme had slain enemies of the town, making life safer for all. Lady Moonfire had declared the day a holiday and ordered a massive party in the city center. Standing before over a thousand citizens, she spoke of the great deeds done and the hope that had been brought to her people. Perhaps a bit dramatic but she had a point. Life had been going very poorly for residents of Loudwater, culminating in a deadly blizzard. Things have been getting better ever since: criminals and slavers brought to justice, a neighboring city freed from dictatorship, goblins and other foul monsters slain. The dragon head at the center of this celebration was proof of good things to come.
Fibbit’s mind drifted off as he listened to the boring speeches by Lady Moonfire, Rolan of the Blades and Kessel of the Pilgrims. Just last week, fresh from exploring the Benadar Manor, he received a request from a servant of Lady Moonfire. She wished a private audience, away from prying eyes. Sneaking into her residence (after all, he had an invitation), Fibbit spied on the leader of Loudwater as she read from a scroll. She seemed to be mouthing the words, as if practicing, then her eyes lit with a bright green unnatural light. Fibbit was amused and surprised the clueless woman could even read.
Noticing her short constable, she quickly hid the ritual scroll and made her offer to Fibbit. Spy on the Pilgrims, find out their true purpose in Loudwater. Found out if they are a friend or enemy. And most importantly, keep an eye on the Pilgrim’s warlock, the half-elf Maldreth. In return for his efforts she offered 200 gold.
Unspoken was her agreement to turn a blind eye to Fibbit’s shady dealings in town. She was no stranger to having a corrupt constable…and at least this one wasn’t trading slaves on the side. As far as she knows. She suspected the halfling had simpler desires: gold and the good life. He could make a loyal servant.
Setting up a series of informants, Fibbit spent the next week in the shadows. It didn’t take long to turn up some dirt. A member of the town guard reported seeing the Pilgrim Araster enter the Fisher’s Friend Pub, a seedy establishment in the docks. Araster met with a local dwarf, Karzon Kul, a man known for taking the questionable jobs when dock work froze up in the winter. A heavy purse was exchanged. Something odd was going on.
The celebration was in full swing now. Mead was flowing freely, citizens mingled with heroes and forgot their cares for a day. Rolan told stories of the Sacred Blades’ exploits to the crowd. Griegor shared a drink with the half-orc Pilgrim, Tarn; the two warriors seemed to get along well enough. The half-elven Pilgrim, Maldreth, congratulated the Blades on their defeat of Cheleen. He acted surprised they managed to slay such a powerful beast. For their part, the Blades were wondering how Maldreth knew the dragon’s name.
Speaking of odd, Fibbit had been keeping tabs on the Edwards family. Last week they told Lady Moonfire the story of their kidnapped son, taken in a lizardman raid. The Blades had offered to assist, leading them into the swamp to meet (and rescue) Orus, slay many lizardmen and even a dragon. The Edwards child was nowhere to be found, perhaps already fallen victim to the beasts.
While all that transpired, Fibbit remained in Loudwater, tracking the Pilgrims until they left town on their own quest. He also found an interesting bit of intelligence: the Edwards family was spending the week living the good life at the Whatever Tavern. They ate and drank every night and had the best room at the inn. Strange way for a grieving family to act. And here today, at the celebration, the Edwards couple were nowhere to be found.
Fibbit hightailed it to the tavern and spoke to the owner, the obese halfling Marsh. He found the Edwards couple where he expected, removed his constable badge and threatened them for information. In terror of the little man, they confessed to everything. A dwarf fitting the description of Karzon Kul paid them and specified the lie they would tell. In truth their son died in the blizzard weeks ago. Poor and without prospects, they gladly accepted money to tell a lie. Fibbit put them under arrest, ordering his deputy to take them to his “safe house” for questioning.
Meanwhile the Blades sighted Karzon and moved in to arrest him. Soon he and the Edwards family were in custody and questioned about their relation with the Pilgrims. A confession was signed, the evidence clear. The Blades realized that Araster had set them up, knowing they would take a mission to rescue children even if it meant facing a dragon. Obviously they had not been meant to return alive, or perhaps to lose standing in Loudwater if they refused the mission. Either way the Blades took great offense at having been manipulated. They returned to the celebration, this time looking for a fight.
Returning in anger, the Blades went with signed confession in hand directly to the table at which the Pilgrims and Lady Moonfire were seated. They were busy arguing, but whatever they were discussing stopped as it became clear the Blades were not happy. An argument ensued, one side accusing the other of trying to have them killed. Never mind that the Blades went willingly to fight an evil dragon and emerged victorious or that they had been paid to spy on the Pilgrims; they felt slighted at the mere manipulation. Arguments became fierce, culminating in Operious insulting the religious beliefs of the Shar-worshiping (or else!) Netherese. Araster had enough of that blasphemy and called on his goddess to make amends.
What happened next surprised even the other Pilgrims: Araster threw up a small black stone, calling on Shar. The stone never fell back to the ground, instead causing a rain of darkness from above. As shadows fell they congealed into a darkly-winged, sword-wielding form: an angelic servant of Shar. Perhaps Shar took offense at the slaying of Her draconic worshiper, Cheleen, or perhaps Araster was owed a boon for prior service. Regardless, the immortal servant quickly inspected the mortals before setting its featureless black eyes on Operious.
While pointing at the mage it spoke in the tongue of the gods, heard in the native language of all present: “I shall slay the pawn of Asmodeus.” It rushed forward and attacked as battle broke out all around. The other Pilgrims were in awe at their goddesses’ manifestation. Raised all their life to honor Shar, even if they had lapsed in recent years, they felt compelled to fight at the angel’s side.
Combat was quick and bloody. Lady Moonfire pleaded for the violence to end while backing away from the slaughter taking place. Though they were well-trained and equipped, even with the angelic assistance the Pilgrims were no match for the fury of the Sacred Blades. Araster was the first to fall and the others quickly followed. Tarn was last, the enraged half-orc slain by his one-time drinking partner Griegor.
As the Blades searched their victims’ pockets for coin, Lady Moonfire took stock of the situation. The agents of Netheril that she paid Fibbit to spy on were dead. Whatever arcane secrets Maldreth kept were lost. No doubt the slain servants of Shar were whispering in Her ear right now. Soon war would follow as Netheril sought vengeance for their dead. Llorkh was no longer a buffer, reduced from a military stronghold to a weakened militia ruled by a handful of town elders. And her only reliable counter to Netheril inside Loudwater had been branded and slain in the streets by overzealous adventurers. She would have to find new allies and new sources of power if Loudwater was to survive the coming threats. A handful of violent treasure seekers were not enough to defend her ancestral home.
She regretted ever humoring the Blades. They had once again proven to be a double-edged sword: in their zeal to do ‘good’, they left nothing but death and war in their wake. Now the only major religious institution in town was the rebuilt temple of Tempus, a war god. The last thing she wanted was her citizens eager for battle with Netheril. Those damnable Blades…why hadn’t they just died at the hands of her old constable…or even the dragon? What had the angel meant when it spoke of Asmodeus?
Lady Moonfire turned to Fibbit, clearly angered. She revoked his status as Constable. Operious and the other Blades considered removing her from power then and there, but the citizens stood behind their Lady. Her family had ruled for generations and would not so easily be toppled. The Blades look to Captain Harrowleaf for support but even he sided with his ruler over a passing group of adventurers. He had known Moonfire’s grandfather and was loyal to the family.
The citizens still supported the Blades and wanted them to stay in town. They had done countless good deeds for the commoner: rescuing children, stopping the blizzard, slaying a dragon. The stuff of legend, the kind of thing that would be talked about in Loudwater’s taverns for years to come.
In the end, Moonfire allowed them to stay in town, just without any official duties. They could maintain a home or business here but would have no legal powers. They would have to act lawfully: further acts of outright murder would result in arrest or banishment. In return, she expects the group to assist when war inevitably comes.
The Blades made plans to leave, perhaps returning to their abandoned fortress in Llorkh. Good would come to this region – whether they wanted it or not.
|Discovered Araster’s plot: 1250 (level 6 major quest)|
|Fully funded the temple of Tempus: 875 (level 4 major quest)|
|Lady Moonfire retained as ally (for now): 250 (level 6 minor quest)|
|Provoked Araster into attacking first: 250 (level 6 minor quest)|
|Pilgrims of Oreme resolved (and slain): 1600 (level 7 encounter)|
|Avoided civilian casualties: 250 (level 6 minor quest)|
|4475xp total, 895xp per person|
|Grand Total XP per character: 8930 (10,000 for 7th)|