Corruption of Azim

Chapter 11


The Captain of the Guard was a difficult man to reason with. The fort was abuzz with activity and the man obviously felt that he had better things to do. Apparently Renferell’s mother was arriving in town that day. Asmodeus felt confounded by bad luck.

Ulric’s description of Kailden’s activities had been correct — the werewolf had attacked the town. But the soldiers had driven him away and therefore the Captain of the Guard stubbornly pressed that there was no reward. Kailden’s head lie rotting in the wizard’s pack and he thought it best to avoid showing it. Instead of recognizing me as a hero, they’d label me a murderer and have me arrested!

But what bothered him the most had been their brief encounter with Renferell’s cleric. The healer had apologetically stated that he was unable to help Tyrus; neither in detecting or healing the threat of lycanthropy. He merely recommended immediate travel to Aelhaim for treatment. Asmodeus wondered if the cleric was more unwilling than unable to help.

Having been frustrated in their two goals, the wizard and blackguard departed the fort. Together they rode the warhorse Ingus toward the town.

“There’s no use dwelling upon it,” Tyrus said. “I think you’re more angry about it than I am, and I’m the one who was bitten! If I’m afflicted, we’ll find out in a few weeks. But there’s nothing we can do about it in the meantime.”

“Yes,” Asmodeus replied, “but I’m worried about how we’ll find out.”

“I know. I worry for Shandra’s safety because she won’t want to stay away. She’ll be upset at this news. Still, I’ll be happy to see her. I wonder what she’s been up to during our long trek?”

“Hopefully staying away from Grosh and getting close to Renferell. But not too close, of course.”

Arriving back in town, they stopped at the forge of Malek and Drinn to retrieve Tyrus’ new blade. The craftsmanship was quite astounding, even to Asmodeus who rarely took notice of weapons unless they were magically enchanted.

Their next stop was the Blue Drake Inn where they hoped to find Shandra and Elandra. Gaimon and Nock would meet them there after finishing burying their loot. Asmodeus had been reluctant to part with his new staff of fire, but he couldn’t risk bringing it into town. He did keep the magical gauntlets with him though; they were safely stowed in his pack.

As they approached the inn, Asmodeus found himself slightly jealous of his companion. Although both of them would be able to enjoy a relaxing bath, Tyrus would likely have some intimate time with his wife. The wizard redoubled his hopes of finding Elandra. Perhaps with a little coaxing…

Both were disappointed to find that neither woman was at the inn. But they made the best of their situation, arranging for room and board. After cleaning up, they ordered a late lunch and sat in the sparsely occupied tavern.

During their meal Elandra entered with a young, handsomely dressed man. On meeting looks, the elf rushed over to the wizard. She sat in the vacant chair next to Asmodeus.

“Have I got news for you! What took you so long anyway? I could have used your help this morning!”

Then she noticed Tyrus and her face fell.

“But it’s not all good news,” she said softly.

As you might imagine, Dustin is the man Elandra entered with. Gaimon and Nock are off burying the loot; Asmodeus expects them to show up in a little while.

What items would you like to discuss? I imagine that introducing Dustin and telling about Shandra and Lady Isley are all topics that will be hit on. If you have any specific dialog, please make sure to provide it now.

Asmodeus’ face darkens.

“The bad news first.”

When told about Shandra, his mood will go from sour to “don’t mess with me or I’ll light you on fire. And your children.” However you want to describe it, DM.

I assume they would talk a bit about this development, including Tyrus’ possible lycanthropy. As Tyrus and Asmodeus get more and more furious at their bad luck, the wizard will spit out:

“Your good news had better be damn good!”

When told about Lady Isley, his mood will lighten considerably, and he will begin to cackle.

“So, do we frame the Darkrunners, or do we frame the Outcasts?” he says, as a cold, calculating smile grows across his face.

If/when Dustin is formally introduced, it would be great if Elandra could mention that he’s a bit of a pyromaniac. I’m going to add this bit of dialogue that Karasu and I did verbatim just one night, randomly switching to speak as our characters (something we had never done and actually haven’t done since). It includes Shandra, but you get the idea:

“This is Dustin Ashe, my pyromaniac friend,” said Shandra.

“Pleased to meet you,” said Tyrus, extending a gauntleted hand. Gaimon folded his arms, and Nock looked on idly, thumbing his dagger.

“Dust and Ash, huh?” said Asmodeus, emphasizing the “correct” way of pronouncing the words. “Nice alias. I’m Asmodeus.”

“Lord of the ninth level of hell?”

“At your service,” the wizard inclined his head.

Also, if you’re inclined to let me, I’d like to roll a Sense Motive check for the conversation with Jorn. You hinted that Asmodeus thinks he’s more unwilling than unable, so just trying to verify that. You could work that knowledge gleaned (if any) into the conversation about Shandra with Dustin, who is also suspicious of the cleric.

Asmodeus Sense Motive: 16 (roll) + 1 (bonus) = 17 total.

Dustin orders everyone a drink on him. He just got paid and he’s in a giving mood.

After gregariously shaking hands with everyone, he studiously avoids looking at Tyrus. He’s hoping Elandra tells the bad news so it omits the part where Dustin was sound asleep down the hall when the blackguard’s wife was abducted.

He feels quite comfortable in this little group, especially with Elandra by his side, though he’s getting weird vibes between her and ‘the ninth hell lord.’ Love triangle, he thinks, Hope it’s not as messy as the last one.

He’ll explain all questions put to him, including that he is the bastard son of a nobleman, is from Lysidia, and suspects dragon blood is in him.

Otherwise, he’s just really excited to show everyone his hostage.

Finally, when it comes time to introduce Dustin and Nock, I have some dialogue prepared.

Asmodeus’ face darkened. I’ve had enough bad luck for one day… “The bad news first,” he said.

Elandra paused for a moment, then took a deep breath before stating, “Killshandra has been kidnapped by the Darkrunners.”

Tyrus knocked over his drink in his abrupt rush to his feet. “What!?” His face was a mix of emotion ranging from horrific disbelief to unbridled rage.

The wizard’s mood was sour. “What happened? And how long ago?”

The elven woman explained how Shandra had been on her dates with the mayor after they’d left town, and how she got ever closer to him until the night of Renferell’s party.

“When she didn’t return that night, I wasn’t too worried. We’d discussed the possibility of her spending the night at the fort at some point. But then she didn’t return all the next day. It wasn’t until the day after that when Dustin — Oh! I’m sorry, I forgot to introduce you all.

“Asmodeus, Tyrus, this is Dustin Ashe. He’s a like-minded fellow with a flair for pyromania.”

Dustin had sat down casually on the other side of Elandra and discretely placed a rag on the table to prevent the spilled drink from reaching him. Then he’d listened to the explanation of Shandra’s plight while avoiding eye contact with Tyrus. Upon being introduced, he got up and gregariously shook hands.

“Dust and ash, huh?” the wizard asked while emphasizing the play on words. “Nice alias. I’m Asmodeus.”

“Lord of the ninth level of hell?” Dustin queried with a playful look.

The reference wasn’t lost on the wizard. “At your service,” he replied with an incline of his head. It was mere coincidence that Asmodeus shared his name with a demon lord, but few people were educated or bold enough to mention it.

“So what happened?” Tyrus asked. The question was posed to both Dustin and Elandra. While the former sat down, the latter continued her story.

“Right. Actually I’d been avoiding Dustin until yesterday. I knew I’d seen him before in Lysidia though I couldn’t remember where. In any case, he caught me off guard and told me that Shandra had disappeared.

“He was at the Renferell’s party, you see, and they discovered their mutual dislike of the mayor.”

“I guess you could say I get along well with dangerous women,” Dustin commented with a shrug. “After taking a private tour of the fort, we took advantage of the mayor’s hospitality. The next morning she had disappeared. I thought she’d just taken off, but then I found this.”

Dustin pulled out a silver dagger and handed it to Tyrus. The blackguard went pale as he looked at it.

“I didn’t think she’d leave that behind on purpose.”

“No,” Tyrus answered halfheartedly, “She wouldn’t.”

Elandra resumed her explanation, “So after meeting Dustin I had him go to the Outcasts to try find out what had happened to her.”

Grosh! Asmodeus closed his eyes and clenched his teeth in frustration. “I should have known that parasitic half-orc was behind this!”

“Actually he wasn’t,” Dustin answered. “Not to say he didn’t want to be — Grosh isn’t much of a gentleman, you know. Apparently the Darkrunners were called in from someone in Renferell’s inner circle. Probably that annoying cleric, Breathmint.”

Asmodeus thought back to the morning’s encounter with Jorn. The wizard was growing more and more suspicious of the mayor’s healer. This doesn’t help me know how powerful he is, but clearly he’s a problem. Could he have helped Tyrus? What, if anything, does he know about our group?

Returning his attention to the conversation, Dustin was saying something about Grosh and a woman named Velaine.

“Apparently she left town with their prisoner early yesterday morning or the night before. I don’t think their next meeting—”

“Wait!” Tyrus interrupted. “It was only a day or two ago when they took her?” He stood up again. “If I leave now I may be able to catch up with them! They’ve got to be headed south, at least until they hit the crossroads between Fort Hamden and Fairfield!”

“Hold on a moment,” Asmodeus began. “Gaimon and Nock will be here shortly and we can come up with a plan.”

“NO!” Tyrus slammed his fist against the table. Then he calmed down a bit. “No. There’s no time. I’ll be much faster if I travel alone. Plus they won’t be as defensive if I’m alone.

“You can finish carrying out your plans here. Besides, you haven’t even got a horse, remember?”

The blackguard drew his new sword. Holding it aloft he chanted a spell which caused the blade to glow a dull red with the appearance of blood. On the spot he swore an oath to recover his wife. Then he rushed up the stairs.

Asmodeus looked around the room. Merchants and townsfolk were staring at their table. Tyrus’ oath hadn’t been very clandestine. The wizard stared back at each of the few tavern patrons with a menacing scowl until they turned away in fear. Hopefully word of this doesn’t spread far, he thought. We should wait here at least until Nock and Gaimon show up. Besides, to leave now would confirm suspicions rather than allay them.

The table sat in silence for a few minutes. Asmodeous was more upset than he’d been in a long time. The next person to mess with him would pay dearly. Suddenly he realized that his hand was hurting. Looking down he saw his knuckles were white due to the tight grip he had on his drink. If the mug had been made of a weaker substance than the strong pewter he probably would have broken it. Relaxing his grip he turned back to Elandra.

“Your other news had better be good,” he said coldly.

Elandra smiled. Asmodeus’ mood lightened considerably as he was told about the morning’s adventure of abducting Elizabeth Isley.

“Now she’s tied up in my basement,” Elandra said, finishing the tale. “Consider her a gift. I knew you’d want to do something like this, but you were gone. I would appreciate it if you could move her soon though. I don’t know how I’ll get any sleep with her down there. Not to mention that in a few days or weeks you can expect Isley to pay for some scrying to find her location.”

Asmodeus began to cackle as he considered the possibilities. “So, do we frame the Darkrunners, or do we frame the Outcasts?” he asked himself aloud. A cold, calculating smile grew across his face.

Then Tyrus returned down the stairs with his pack and gear ready. He stopped by the table and bid farewell to the group.

“Good luck, my friend,” Asmodeus said as they clasped arms. “May we meet again, and may the universe give you the sign you are looking for.”

“I’ll catch up with you once I rescue Shandra,” he said to the wizard. “Good luck with everything here.”

He then turned to Dustin. “Thanks for your help in all this. I’m sorry we didn’t meet under better circumstances.”

Dustin sheepishly accepted the thanks and bid the blackguard good luck. Then Tyrus rushed out the door.

Tyrus’ exit brought Asmodeus’ attention back around to Dustin. Who is this guy anyway? Without mincing words he asked his next thoughts directly.

“Dustin, tell me about yourself. What makes you want to ally yourself with us? Why would you risk yourself in capturing Isley for us?”

“Well, a deal’s a deal,” Dustin replied with a grin. “The lovely lady here promised that if I’d help you with your woman problem, then you’d help me with my money trouble. It so happens that I have the key — metaphorically speaking — to a heaping pile of treasure underneath the mayor’s fort. It’s a lot to carry by oneself.”

When asked for details, Dustin told about how he and Shandra had discovered and then visited the mayor’s treasury. During this discussion, Gaimon and Nock arrived and sat down with the group.

Dustin ordered a round of drinks for everyone, then introduced himself more fully. He told of his unique heritage, of both illegitimate nobility and draconic descent.

Asmodeus was pleased. It seemed that Dustin’s desires and goals would blend perfectly with their group.

Farewell, Tyrus. Perhaps someday Whipblade will return, but for now we have the full party together (finally).

Now’s the time when the rest of the introductions would be made for Gaimon and Nock. Let me know what dialog you have and what topics you want to discuss.

Regarding Jorn, Asmodeus feels like the cleric probably could have done something more to help. He’s not sure about the ability (i.e. level) of the cleric, so maybe he couldn’t have cured Tyrus. But he’s more and more convinced that Jorn merely dismissed them.

As soon as Nock enters the room, Dustin brightens. “A halfling! I love halflings.” At this point, Dustin is practically beaming.

Nock starts looking around the room before he realizes this strange newcomer is talking about him. In an instant, his bewilderment turns into mounting anger.

Dustin proceeds to glibly speak to Nock in the lilting halfling tongue. Caught up in his enthusiasm, he doesn’t notice that the gnome hasn’t responded. Nock slowly pulls out his dagger and deftly tosses it into the table just a hair’s breadth from Dustin’s hand. The sorcerer glances down, alarmed at the sudden appearance of a knife so near his riding hand. Recovering from his surprise, he smiles again.

“This Nock is a gnome. I’s no halfling,” the assassin says.

Still Dustin is grinning: “Well, sir gnome, all the same, I think we’ll be fast friends.”

Dustin turns to Asmodeus, taking stock of the elf, gnome, and half-elf in his company. “You’ve assembled quite the eclectic group. A misfit myself, I feel compelled to join up. So, what’s your plan of attack? We’ve got a treasury to rob, an old woman to ransom, and a town to ruin. Also, a man of learning such as yourself wouldn’t know the language of the dragons, would he? I’d let you have a little more of my gold for some lessons.”

I’ve asked Karasu about Nock’s actions, and he approves of all of this.

Gaimon glares at this dashing, slightly annoying newcomer before sitting down at the table on the far side. Nock (as per asking Karasu) will sit next to Gaimon. As Dustin completely annoys the gnome, Gaimon and Nock will share a look of “who is this guy?” just before Nock draws his dagger and throws it into the table. Gaimon smirks and gives a small grunt of pleasure when he sees the look on Dustin’s face after the dagger is thrown.

Asmodeus doesn’t miss any of this, and tries to focus the group on the matters at hand. “Welcome aboard, Dustin,” the wizard says. “I believe we could make an arrangement with regard to speaking Draconic. But, to the matters at hand!”

First, about Lady Isley. “I’ll have to see what I can do to return the favor, Elandra! You are a talented woman,” then, with kind of a sexually tense smirk, add “in many areas.” He’s beginning to work on seduction, and for now a genuine compliment will do. “Could we keep her where she is until tonight?” He’ll also make sure to tough Elandra lightly on the shoulder or something on the way out. But now it’s time to get to work . . .

Asmodeus will check the stable to see if Shandra’s horse, Fallacy, is still there. If it is, Asmodeus will see if he can take it as his own. Shandra was part of his own party, after all. They can probably get away with just taking all of the horses with them when they go. If not, at some point he’ll have to buy a new horse.

Nock, Asmodeus, and Gaimon will go about town looking for bags of holding. They’re going to need some to hold things from the treasury, eventually. Gaimon and Nock would have brought their stolen one back after burying the loot. Dustin is to return to the fort and be excited to meet the famous Lady Isley.

That night, Nock is to sneak closer to the Outcasts main headquarters and find a building nearby that would suit their needs. If Asmodeus and Gaimon run into MacArthur, they’ll see if there’s been any further gnoll attacks and what’s been going on with the militia idea, but this isn’t a priority. They certainly won’t go into the Bleeding Barrel, which is where Grosh is wont to hang out.

I’m not sure what Elandra would feel comfortable doing with the group here. She can help however she would like.

The plan is to turn the mayor on the Outcasts, framing Grosh for the kidnapping of Lady Isley. If they can get the mayor to squeeze the town in the meantime, all the better (to foment any semblance of rebellion they can). Plan is for Dustin to mention to Jake, once the mayor is in full-blown panic mode, that he overheard something in one of the bars about some ransoming going on. This would have been a few days ago, but now it all makes sense! The people talking about it would have been Outcasts. It need not have been Grosh itself, but since he’s the leader, he’ll be implicated. Jake will search for his mother and find her tied up in the basement of the building Nock selected.

That’s the general plan, but I think it would be best to take the narrative up to when they all reconvene at the Blue Drake that evening. Dustin’s excuse for leaving would presumably be that he doesn’t want to impose on the mayor again and stay overnight. But Asmodeus hopes that Dustin has been paying attention to guards at the fort, something he and Tyrus would have done while visiting, actually.

“Now tell me about yourself, my halfling friend! I love halfings,” Dustin said. His face had brightened when Nock sat down at the table, and now he was practically beaming.

Nock on the other hand was looking around behind him in confusion. After a moment he seemed to understand what was going on and his bewilderment turned to annoyance. Then Dustin began to speak in a lilting tongue that Asmdodeus assumed to be the halfling language.

Nock grimaced as his anger mounted. The Gnome looked over at Gaimon and they both shared a look of incredulity concerning this newcomer. Nock then drew his dagger and deftly tossed it into the table just a hair’s breadth away from Dustin’s hand.

The sorcerer glanced down, alarmed at the sudden appearance of knife. Gaimon smirked and Asmdoeus thought he heard a faint grunt of pleasure from the Elf as he and Nock stared at the shocked Dustin. Recovering from his surprise, Dustin smiled again.

“This Nock is a gnome. I’s no halfling,” the assassin stated.

Unphased, Dustin remained grinning. “Well, sir gnome, all the same, I think we’ll be fast friends.” Then after taking stock of Gaimon, he turned to the wizard and continued. “You’ve assembled quite the eclectic group. A misfit myself, I feel compelled to join up. So what’s your plan of attack? We’ve got a treasury to rob, an old woman to ransom, and a town to ruin. Also, a man of learning such as yourself wouldn’t know the language of the dragons, would he? I’d let you have a little more of my gold for some lessons.”

Asmdoeus was happy to have the conversation turn back to items of importance. “Welcome aboard, Dustin,” he said. “I believe we could make an arrangement with regard to speaking Draconic. But to the matters at hand!

“The treasury will have to wait for a while — especially since today the fort is crawling with Renferell’s servants. The first item of business is to take care of Lady Isley. I’ll have to see what I can do to return this favor, Elandra! You are a talented woman… in many areas.”

The wizard put on his most dashing smile. Seduction wasn’t his forte, but he tried to convey his meaning. Reaching over, he gently put his hand on her arm. “Could we keep her where she is until tonight? By then we should have a place to put her.”

Elandra smiled and leaned toward the wizard. She toyed with her hair as she replied, “Yes, that should be acceptable. Lady Isley isn’t the type of company I prefer alone with me at my place, but perhaps you could exchange her for someone who is.”

She then put her hand over Asmodeus’ and looked him in the eyes. Next she shot a glance over at Dustin which the wizard couldn’t see. Hmm… I wonder what’s going on here?

Then she stood up. “Well, I’ll leave you boys to your plotting. See you tonight,” she said in a coy tone as she walked away.

Asmodeus then realized that everyone was staring at him. Gaimon and Nock were wearing funny grins, but Dustin seemed slightly distracted.

“Let’s get to work,” the wizard said.

They discussed their plans for the afternoon. Dustin was to head over to the fort, monitor the goings on, and generally act excited to meet Lady Isley. Meanwhile, the rest of the group would inquire around town about getting some magical bags of holding in preparation for looting the treasury. In the evening they’d reassemble.

Asmodeus was working on a plan to frame the Outcasts, and specifically Grosh, for the kidnapping of Lady Isley. Dustin’s connection to the mayor would be helpful in this. “And then if the mayor’s mother is found near Grosh’s hideout…” He smiled to think of that wretched half-orc in prison.

Leaving the inn, Asmodeus first went to check the stables. He had mixed emotion when finding Killashandra’s white horse Fallacy there. He was upset that she and Tyrus were gone, angry at the Darkrunners for messing with his group, and more suspicious of Jorn Braithwaite than ever. On the other hand, this meant he didn’t need to go buy a new horse. Now if only it weren’t a white horse… oh well.

Unlike other towns, Fallerun was a small community that didn’t have much in the way of shops. With the notable exception of Malek and Drinn, the town did not sport very good craftsmen. The people mostly sustained themselves through agriculture and merchants came to trade in rare ores mined from the foothills of the mountains. Thus the wizard’s only hope to find magical items was in the general marketplace.

Gaimon and Nock followed Asmodeus as he led them to the northeast side of town. The main road through town opened up into a large circular area which was filled with interconnected huts and tents. A few more permanent wooden structures dotted the area. Townspeople were bustling about trading their wares. Farmers stood next to wagons full of corn, pumpkins, and other crops for sale.

“Welcome to the marketplace,” Asmodeus said. “See what you can find.”

After an hour Asmodeus’ feet and back were sore, yet all he’d found were a handful of unknown potions and some boots which the bald, grizzled seller insisted were magical and of elven make. He had examined dozens of bags, sacks, and packs, but none were what he was looking for.

When he met up with his companions he found their stories were similar. Gaimon had located some excellent looking bracers, and an ornate nunchaku. Nock had found a wand of some kind. All of them were tired of speaking with merchants eager to hock their wares.

But the afternoon’s search hadn’t been completely wasted. Asmodeus and Nock had caught rumors of an “unofficial” militia. Could this be the work of McArthur following my suggestion? Seems like too much of a coincidence not to be, especially since Nock overheard someone mention a Henry.

With no other plans, the trio returned to the Blue Drake. There they ate, played cards, and otherwise entertained themselves until Dustin returned late that evening.

“Jake’s starting to panic,” he said to Asmodeus as he sat down at the table next to Nock. The gnome sneered, but said nothing.

“Jorn and the other guards and servants have been trying to calm the mayor,” Dustin continued, “but he’s sure that mommy wouldn’t be so late. I expect they’ll send out a scout in the morning to ride along the road.

“I happen to know that they’ll easily find the charred remains of a carriage and some bodies.”

What will the group do now? Follow through with the plan to hide Lady Isley somewhere in Outcast territory?

FYI, sometime soon I plan to jump the story forward by a few weeks. It will take time for word of missing guards and a kidnapped noble to affect the town. But I won’t jump ahead while you guys have immediate or short term plans. So please make sure to let me know what you want to accomplish before then and what can wait.

Regarding the market, here’s some detail on the items of note:

- The potions are being sold for 200 gp each. They are unmarked vials of purple, red, and a pale blue. Asmodeus thinks the red one may be a healing potion.

- The seller of the boots insists they are magical and wants 2,750 gp for them.

- The wand is apparently one of cure light wounds, but the seller is only asking 500 gp for it (instead of 750). Therefore you suspect it to be used.

- The ornate nunchaku is selling for 2,500. This leads you to believe that it is a magic weapon.

- The bracers look very strong and have detailed embroidery. You think they are bracers of armor, but don’t know how strong. The seller wants 18,000 for them though.

If you decide to try to buy anything at the market, know that you can attempt to haggle down the price via skill checks (e.g. Intimidation, Diplomacy, etc.), but failure might increase the price or have other side affects. Also, each character may make an additional search check to try to find other noteworthy items. You can also buy plenty of mundane items and equipment from the marketplace.

“Excellent!” the wizard will say. Then he’ll turn to Nock. “We have need of your special abilities, my sneaky friend. We’re going to need a place to drop Lady Isley off.”

Nock is looking for a building decently near the Outcasts headquarters that is abandoned, and hopefully one with a basement. Asmodeus will make sure that Lady Isley has had something to eat. It might be a while before she’s found . . . In the meantime, he will ask to borrow the cart Elandra used. He’ll make sure he’s seen at the Blue Drake Inn, retiring for the night, before using Gaseous Form to sneak out. No sense in not having an alibi.

When Nock gets back, he’ll cast Ghost Sound to make it sound like there is arguing going on nearby Lady Isley. One of the voices should sound gruff and half-orcish. Dunno if the spell can actually sound like Grosh, but that’s what we’re going for. As close as possible, so that she will remember him (hopefully). Then Asmodeus will say, “yes, Mister Grosh, we’ll move her right now” and Gaimon will walk into the room with Lady Isley and knock her out. I hope Elandra gagged and blindfolded her. (I’m also assuming that Lady Isley is awake by now, which is an assumption I guess.)

The area of town looked pretty run down, hopefully there will be something that suits our needs. We’ll stash Lady Isley in the basement, tying her up as well as we can. Nock should probably be invisible and sneaking around, Gaimon carrying Lady Isley, Dustin with him, and Asmodeus in Gaseous Form (he’ll revert once they get decently close, as he can last 14 minutes in that state). Just trying to limit the number of visible people. Also, Corbinian will be circling and looking for others on the streets. I hope Elandra says that we can use her cart to get decently close, instead of lugging around an unconscious body. After she’s stashed there, they’ll all reconvene back at the Blue Drake Inn. Corbinian is to stay by the building and keep an eye on things.

Then, once the mayor is alerted to the fact that the carriage was destroyed and his mother is missing, Dustin can drop his hint as discussed above. Point is to find a location that will be near enough to cast suspicions on the Outcasts, and when Lady Isley remembers that Grosh’s name was associated with her abductors, then the mayor will hopefully arrest the poor fool. Dustin will be prodding the mayor along during this entire spectacle, trying to overcome the calming influence of the Captain and Jorn.

Feel free to adjust the story as needed. The important things:

1. Lady Isley hear the name “Grosh.”
2. We don’t travel as a pack of people carrying an unconscious body.
3. She gets stashed somewhere near Outcast Territory. If there is no suitable spot, then I guess we’ll readjust again.
4. Dustin drop hints that he heard something about her being abducted. Should be related to the outcasts. Have the mayor search the area near their headquarters. Find Lady Isley.
5. . . .
6. Profit?

Then again, I think Eryx covered everything. Play on.

One more piece of dialogue to add, was thinking it would be as they parted ways, Dustin to head back to the fort to begin working his side of the entire operation.

“Well, at least we traded in the mayor’s girlfriend for the mayor’s best friend. Good luck, Dustin,” said Asmodeus.

“Excellent!” the wizard replied as he rubbed his hands together. Then turning to Nock, “We have need of your special abilities, my sneaky friend. We’re going to need a place to drop Lady Isley off.”

Nock nodded as Asmodeus explained what he wanted: an abandoned building in Outcast territory, ideally with a basement. Then the Gnome hopped down from his chair and headed out into the night.

Next Asmodeus instructed Dustin and Gaimon to discretely meet up with him at Elandra’s place in about an hour. Then in an attempt to be as conspicuous as possible, he sat at the bar for a few minutes talking to the innkeeper before heading up to his room. No sense in not having an alibi, he thought. Hopefully some of these people will remember seeing me here, if it comes to it.

Patiently the wizard sat in his room for ten minutes. Then he quietly chanted the arcane words to invoke a spell. As he moved his hands in the requisite patterns, he saw them start to fade and smoke. As the spell completed, his body and possessions disintegrated into an insubstantial mist.

In his gaseous form, the wizard slipped through the window which he’d left open just a crack. The town was dark and quiet. Down below, a few tavern patrons were heading home for the night. Slowly he floated toward Elandra’s cottage.

Asmodeus could feel the energy of his spell draining as he neared the cottage. Seeing that no one was about, he dismissed the spell and returned to his normal form at the elf’s door. Quietly he knocked. Elandra opened the door and let him in.

“Can I borrow that cart you used this morning?” Asmdoeus asked as he entered the house.

“It’s always work first with you, isn’t it?” she replied with a laugh.

It was then that Asmodeus noticed the elf was wearing some lovely, silky robes and her long dark hair fell casually over her shoulders.

“Sorry. I didn’t — I mean… You look great. Comfortable.”

She smiled as he stammered. “Thanks. Yes, you can borrow the cart; it’s just around back.”

She invited him to sit and they chatted casually for a few minutes before a knock at the door heralded Dustin’s arrival. A while later Gaimon showed up. Their conversation spanned various topics, but Asmodeus was distracted by the task at hand.

She’s right. Work does come first for me. And so be it — such resolve has always served me well. Just like when I shut up Jason Ordman and his annoying friends at University with a successful Alter Self spell.

Sometime after midnight, Nock returned from his assignment. His pleased look let Asmodeus know before asking that a suitable location had been found. Elandra had already fed the prisoner earlier, so now they were ready for action.

After opening the trap door to the hidden basement below, Nock cast a Ghost Sound spell made to sound like Grosh. The result wasn’t perfect — it didn’t sound quite like the half-orc, and the limitations of the spell didn’t allow for clear speech. But the point was just to make Lady Isley believe Grosh was involved, and the linchpin was in Asmodeus’ line.

“Yes, Mister Grosh. We’ll move her right now,” he said, calling down into the basement to ensure he’d be heard.

Then Gaimon climbed down into Elandra’s basement room and knocked the prisoner out. With a little help from Dustin, he then brought her up. The group checked the ropes and blindfold to make sure they were secure. At Asmodeus’ instruction, they also gagged her. Then they carried her out the back door and hid her in the cart.

Elandra bid the group good luck as they departed. Rather than use a horse, Gaimon and Dustin pulled the cart by hand. Asmodeus thought perhaps Gaimon was doing the lion’s share of the work, but didn’t mention it. Instead, he and Nock walked well ahead of the cart to avoid the risk of the entire group being seen together.

As they approached the southwest end of town they grew more cautious. Although they didn’t want to be spotted by anyone at all, being seen by the Outcasts would spoil the whole plan. Once again Asmodeus used his Gaseous Form spell to avoid detection. Under his instruction Nock turned invisible.

“Uh… we’ve got a problem here,” Dustin said quietly. “How are we supposed to follow an invisible halfl— uh, gnome?”

Blast! I was sure I had thought this through! Asmodeus was upset at this development and was unable to speak in his mist-like form. But luckily, Nock had a solution. He picked up a piece of wood, tapped it against a wall, and then carried it with him. Gaimon grunted acknowledgment, and then the group followed the floating stick to their destination.

The appearance of the old building did nothing to set it apart from the others around it. They all were falling apart in this slummy area of town. But an old stone wine cellar was exactly the type of place Asmodeus was hoping for. He congratulated Nock with a whisper, having returned to his solid form.

The location was also quite close to the Outcasts. From around a corner, Dustin pointed out a building across the street as the place where he had met with Grosh. There was still light coming from the windows which caused the group to move with extra caution.

Elizabeth Isley was left bound in the cellar. Gaimon was able to take the now-lighter cart back himself, so the rest of the group scattered. Corbinian had surveyed the area the whole time, but there had been no sign of any activity aside from within Grosh’s building. Asmodeus worried slightly that it had gone so smoothly, but there was no sign of having been detected. Telepathically he instructed the raven to stay near the building and keep an eye on things.

A final casting of Gaseous Form which the wizard had carefully prepared allowed him to return stealthily to his room at the Blue Drake Inn.

The next day the party had reconvened at the Blue Drake’s tavern. It was late morning by the time everyone had awoke and gathered. The next phase of the plan would depend on Dustin.

“Once the mayor’s people find the carriage — if they haven’t already — and know that Renferell’s mother is missing,” Asmodeus explained, “that will be the time to frame the Outcasts. Tell him that you overheard something about planning a ransom in one of the taverns a few days ago. Without being too obvious, make sure you implicate the Outcasts.”

“No problem,” Dustin replied. “Shouldn’t be much of a stretch. Ol’ Jake’s easy to convince. Once he’s worked up enough, I’ll suggest he send some soldiers.”

“Well, at least we traded in the mayor’s girlfriend for the mayor’s best friend. Good luck, Dustin,” said Asmodeus.

With that, Dustin left.

The rest of that day was spent in near agonizing suspense. Using his empathic link to Corbinian, Asmodeus kept track of the Outcast territory. But the raven didn’t spot anything unusual. Meanwhile, the wizard carefully listened to the conversations around the tavern, hoping to discover some rumor. But no one was talking about Lady Isley or the Outcasts.

Asmodeus’ patience paid off the next day. Early in the morning Corbinian spotted soldiers entering that decaying part of town. They quickly searched dozens of buildings, found Lady Isley, and arrested several Outcasts — including Grosh! Rumors of the incident became the talk of the town.

“I don’t know why they didn’t put up a fight,” Gaimon said as they discussed the goings on. “Especially Grosh. Few of the guards around town seem like they’d be a match for him.”

“Maybe they caught him by surprise?” Asmodeus offered. “They did go in there pretty early in the morning. And he’s often visiting the Drunken Barrel; perhaps he was hungover?”

The wizard pondered the possibility of Grosh surrendering. It didn’t seem very likely. But the rumors had it that the Outcasts didn’t put up much of a fight. What happened there? Were they really taken by surprise?

Late that afternoon Dustin returned. He explained that when he’d arrived at the fort, Renferell had already received news about his mother’s carriage.

“The mayor was absolutely beside himself. I played it cool for a few hours, just letting the poor devil cry himself silly. Then I planted the idea about the Outcasts just as we’d discussed.

“Jake took to it immediately. Jorn seemed to think it was possible — he doesn’t appear to have any affinity for the half-orc either. The Captain of the Guard was ordered to investigate. He managed to convince Renferell to wait for a morning raid. That gave him time to organize.

“Apparently the raid went very smoothly. The Outcasts resisted a little until one of them was killed. The soldiers weren’t messing around. Most of the gang members scattered, but a few were arrested.”

“What about Grosh?” Gaimon asked.

“They say he was still asleep when they raided. One soldier said he looked very confused when charged with kidnapping the mayor’s old lady. But he didn’t put up a fight.”

Asmodeus grinned malevolently. The plan had worked out just about as well as he could have hoped. The idea of Grosh rotting in prison was a pleasant one.

Sorry it took so long to get this post up. This last week has been quite busy for me, plus it took a while to put together. But here it is. Huzzah.

I am ready to move ahead in the story by jumping forward a few weeks. Let me know what your characters would like to do during that interim time. I’m wanting to jump ahead so we can get to the next piece of story that will really engage the characters.

Oh, also I need 3 d20 rolls for each of your characters. For example:
Elandra: 16, 4, 19.

I won’t be revealing what these rolls are for, but they will affect the story. They represent things for which your characters don’t know the result of their actions. I’ll add in any applicable bonuses for your characters as they apply.

Dustin: 4, 8, 4.
Nock: 11, 18, 6.
As they lie low to see how the townspeople react to the militia not returning, Dustin wants to study Draconic with Asmodeus. In fact, he’ll frequently pester him about it, often knocking at his door at unreasonable hours or catching him as he rounds corners on city streets. He’ll also stop at nothing to befriend everyone, especially Nock.

He’ll also continue to court Elandra, whipping out a hidden flower every time he sees her, buying her wine, gush with compliments, etc. A lot of this will be in full view of Asmodeus. He’ll also go riding a lot, and visit Jake a few times a week. In short, he’s settling comfortably into his role of minor noble with a flair for eccentricities and a penchant for odd company. He’s going to keep on eye on Braithwaite.

Nock will raise money for himself by playing his gittern. His red hair links him to the assassination attempt on Renferrell, so he’ll disguise himself by dying his hair for performances. He also becomes nocturnal, sleeping during the day and performing at night, always in the seedier taverns (Bleeding Barrell) and always disguised. (Do you need me to roll Performance or Disguise rolls, and how many?) He’s always studying the townfolk, listening to their gossip and worries. He wants to keep a finger on the public’s pulse.

Karasu, please give me 3 performance rolls for Nock. I’ll make the disguise rolls (since he wouldn’t know how well the disguise is working). But if you want, you can opt to have others help him w/ his disguise thereby adding an “aid” bonus.

Performance rolls: 2, 2, 6 (Wow, did Nock hurt his playing hand? Good thing he gets a +11 bonus.)

Also, Dustin would be happy to give Nock a hand with his disguise.

Here are the things my characters hope to accomplish in the next few weeks:

Asmodeus will keep working on seducing Elandra. Early in the morning Asmodeus will head to the market and try to buy something for Elandra, probably some jewelry or a nice dress—something he knows she would like. I leave it to the DM to make the decision what he would buy since the DM knows Elandra better than I do, and Asmodeus would know her better than I personally do. When he gets to her place, he’ll say, “I wish I could have stayed that night, but work does come first. Doesn’t mean there’s no time for play later.” He’ll flash his most dazzling smile and give her the gift.

As far as Dustin’s attempts to seduce her, Asmodeus will look upon him with amusement as he goes for it. Competing for her affections isn’t necessarily something Asmodeus is terribly interested in. A game of one-upmanship serves no purpose. As long as he gets to sleep with her once, he’ll be okay. And if he doesn’t, well, it’s not worth alienating his new friend to get all huffy about it. He’s not so cold and calculating, though, that he doesn’t want to get to her first.

They should try to find out from drunk guards or other officials what is going on with the Outcasts. Did Grosh really just surrender? Nock and Elandra are probably the ones to do this, Nock while doing his bard thing, Elandra through any of the usual channels. Maybe Dustin in talking to Jake, but I’m sure Jake probably isn’t interrogating them directly, so his info isn’t as “clean.”

Gaimon will keep training Inque.

Asmodeus will inquire further about the militia he heard rumors of. Could he join up? Help train them? Gaimon was in the elven military, maybe that could help them get in. The two of them will offer their services, at least, even though they’re not planning on being around permanently. They will be up front about that.

Depending on the kinds of crops that Asmodeus’ father planted, it might be time for the harvest. If that’s so, Asmodeus and Gaimon will help out for a day or two, even if Asmodeus hates it. Gaimon goes along with it. His lust for violence has been satiated for the time being with the fighting on their trip out of town, and some manual labor is good for him. This entire time, Asmodeus will be playing the concerned son with everybody he can, without making it clearly overt.

Asmodeus will also get with Mr. Latham to see if there are any children with possible magic propensity. This really serves no purpose but to provide an excuse to stay in town further so they’re not just sitting around doing nothing and looking suspicious. If there are any possibilities, he will test them, and send letters to the University of Aelhaim (he is, after all, officially a wandering wizard of the university). He has no real hope that this will do anything, but again, is a way of keeping busy, possibly gaining allies in the town, and spreading goodwill. Dustin could mention this to the mayor, especially since Asmodeus will be . . .

Teaching Dustin Draconic. Asmodeus will want to schedule some kind of regular lessons. If Dustin is too erratic or insistent, and especially if he shows up at an unreasonable hour, Asmodeus will get annoyed. Competing for Elandra’s affections doesn’t really get under his skin, but Dustin’s insistence in learning Draconic immediately, oddly enough, does. “Learning the language takes time,” Asmodeus will snap at one point. “Dragons live for hundreds of years, sometimes thousands. Do you think you’ll master their language in a week [or however long it’s been]?”

Dustin is not to be seen by Outcasts at the fort. Not that he visits the prison area that often, but as a precaution, let’s avoid having Grosh identify him, shall we?

Rolls to come when I get home tonight and can use my dice, and Asmodeus and Gaimon would both be willing to help Nock with disguises. Asmodeus and Gaimon would even attend shows every once in a while.

Asmodeus Rolls: 2, 12, 19
Gaimon Rolls: 9, 8, 12

* * *

For the next few weeks the party lay low in the town and watched the results of their efforts unfold.

Asmodeus’ first order of business was to get in Elandra’s good graces. Aside from his hopes of an intimate encounter, he was genuinely pleased with her gift of abducting Lady Isley. So he thought he ought to return the favor with a gift, especially before Dustin interfered — the wizard had noticed how the young man had eyed the elf.

Returning to the market early the next morning, Asmodeus searched for an appropriate gift. He knew that she was especially fond of clothing and jewelry. He wasn’t taken with any of the dresses available, and remembered that there really wasn’t a decent tailor in town who could fit it for her. Therefore he focused on jewelery.

After looking for about an hour, Asmodeus found an elaborate silver necklace with matching earrings adorned with aquamarines. The morning light reflecting against its surface somehow reminded him of ice. The merchant’s claim that the necklace was crafted in Kel solidified the wizard’s decision. After haggling down the price, he purchased it for five-hundred forty gold pieces.

Soon thereafter he stood at Elandra’s cottage door. The elf opened the door and seemed surprised to see him.

“I wish I could have stayed that night,” he said, “but work does come first. Doesn’t mean there’s no time for play later.” Then Asmodeus flashed a dazzling smile and handed her the gift.

The wizard could hardly have hoped for the result he got. That entire afternoon was spent having intimate relations with her. And then over the next few days he enjoyed two more romantic encounters.

Meanwhile, as he’d guessed, Dustin was making his own attempts at courting Elandra. Whenever he saw her, the sorcerer gushed with compliments. He often bought her wine, and somehow he always seemed to be able to present her with a flower which he’d hidden away somehow.

Much of this occurred at the Blue Drake within full view of Asmodeus. But the wizard didn’t mind; rather he looked on with slight amusement. Competing with Dustin over Elandra’s affections was not something that interested him. A game of one-upmanship serves no purpose. There’s no point in alienating a new friend — especially since I beat him to her. Besides, her affections are only as strong as what she stands to gain. It’s her loyalty and friendship that I prize.

Nevertheless, Dustin did manage to annoy Asmodeus in a completely different manner. Dustin pestered him frequently to teach Draconic, often knocking at his door at unreasonable hours or catching him as he rounded corners on the town’s roads. Dustin’s insistence in learning the language immediately began to get under his skin.

“Learning the language takes time!” Asmodeus snapped during an early morning session which had interrupted his study of his spellbooks. “Dragons live for hundreds of years, sometimes thousands. Do you think you’ll master their language in a week? We’ve only scratched at the basics!”

Nevertheless, the sorcerer did have an uncanny aptitude toward learning the language. Perhaps he does have dragon’s blood within him.

To blend into the town and keep suspicion away from him, Asmodeus worked two different angles. The first was that of a wandering wizard from the University of Aelhaim. He resented his official ‘position’ because it reminded him of the corruption of the University and how he’d been mistreated despite his talent. But on the other hand, it made for a very real cover story. He used the title to help foster goodwill for himself around town.

The wizard inquired with Mr. Latham whether there were any students with potential for magic. The old schoolmaster’s keen eye had observed two possible candidates, but he was quick to mention his doubt regarding their talent. “They aren’t like you were,” he explained.

Asmodeus interviewed and tested the two pupils, but Latham had been correct. Neither had the ability (or the discipline, in the case of the scatterbrained little girl) to become a wizard. With practice and perhaps a little training, they might be able to control their magic. The boy’s power is divine rather than arcane, so perhaps he could serve as an adept with clerics? To fulfill his role and duty, Asmodeus wrote letters to the University informing them of his findings. He was sure the letters would go unanswered and likely ignored. Perhaps that’s for the best.

His other recourse for blending in with the town was playing the role of son. Although he hated it, he even helped his father for two days harvesting crops. His brother, Raphael, had previously helped with most of the work but as Asmodeus recalled disdainfully there was always more to do. Needing a strong arm, he suspended Gaimon’s training of Inque and brought the elf along to assist.

Gaimon seemed to enjoy the manual labor, though he was clearly not cut out for agriculture. Following Raphael’s instructions, the wizard and fighter quickly finished the bulk of the work. Father and brother were both grateful for the help. Gaimon mentioned later that he thought Raphael would put up a decent fight, if it ever came to it.

An interesting event occurred thirteen days after returning to Fallerun. In lieu of their customary evening at the Blue Drake, the group was spending their late hours at the Bleeding Barrell tavern to see Nock perform. The Gnome had taken to a nocturnal schedule and spent his nights performing at taverns while trying to avoid Dustin’s over-friendliness. The assassination attempt had been all but forgotten around town, but taking no chances, Nock disguised himself for all his performances. He even went as far as dying his very red hair black.

Gaimon had attended several of Nock’s other shows. Convinced that it was safe and that the Outcasts were scattered without their leader, Asmodeus was now attending his second show, hoping it would be better than the last. Dustin came in a little late with a cute girl in tow. Asmodeus rolled his eyes and wondered who else the sorcerer was flirting with. But he was shocked when the girl spoke and it was Elandra! Still concerned about the Outcasts, the elf had thoroughly disguised herself. How did he manage to convince her to come here of all places? Asmdoeus wondered.

The evening was enjoyable, and Asmodeus was pleased with the Gnome’s improved performance. As they commented on the show, someone approached their table. He seemed to be any ordinary traveler or adventurer, dressed in a long brown cloak. The man addressed the wizard directly.

“Asmodeus,” the stranger said, “I have a message for you.” Then as he spoke his eyes seemed to glow a faint yellow and his face and hands turned a deep red.

“I have need of your assistance in two matters, at your convenience. One is retrieving a certain gem from a dragon in the Calinor Marshes. Go to Fort Hamden and await my instructions.

“The other matter will require a bit of travel to obtain an artifact of some importance. I have an associate in Rychport who will assist you. I realize this may be well out of your way, but I assure you it will be worthwhile. As you know, I am always patient with you, my friend, so you need feel no rush or obligation.”

Then without another word the messenger erupted into flame. Within seconds there was nothing left but ash and a bit of smoke.

“What was that all about?” Elandra asked.

Asmodeus looked around then cautiously answered, “That was a message from Shok’ragal, demon lord from the plane of fire.”

Dustin was absolutely ecstatic. The messenger had touched on two of his favorite things: dragons and fire.

“A swamp dragon, eh? Must be a black dragon, you know. Visiting a swamp in the winter sounds unpleasant — although, I suppose that there’s never a great season for visiting the Calinor Marshes.”

“Yes, well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Asmodeus gently rebuked. “We still have unfinished business here in Fallerun. Once that’s finished then we can decide what to do about demonic quests.”

As the days passed by, the townspeople began to be ill at ease. Rumors began circulating that the soldiers were dead and Gnoll attacks were to be expected. Some clung to hope that the soldiers would return. Most began to throw in their support for the local militia. A little digging around by Nock revealed that McArthur and his friends were the driving force behind the militia.

Asmodeus offered up the services of himself and Gaimon to the militia, if the need were to arise. Henry McArthur was happy to have their help and was not deterred by the wizard’s disclaimer that they weren’t planning to remain in Fallerun indefinitely. Gaimon’s military experience earned him a job training men in how to defend the city.

Dustin kept tabs on what was happening at Renferell’s fort. For many days he reported that the mayor was concerned about losing control of the people, or rather that they were lacking trust in their noble leadership. But as each day passed without word from their soldiers, the captain of the guard was losing confidence.

“That’s it. He’s called for help from Uncle Isley,” Dustin said one evening as he sat down to a tall mug of ale.

“Mommy hasn’t felt safe at all ever since arriving in Fallerun, despite ol’ Grosh being locked up. She’s sure the half-orc was involved, but seems to have doubts about the Outcast threat being dealt with.

“Jake’s confidence had been waning too. Before he was prideful, telling his mother about all his achievements. But now he’s gotten scared. I guess he took her advice and this morning they sent a letter to Uncle Bernard to help them out.”

“This could be good or bad,” Asmodeus said. “I wish we had known in time to stop their courier from delivering the letter. But it’s probably too late for that now.

“Renferell’s power is breaking. He can feel the town slipping away from him. I just hope we have enough time to incite some rebellion before Isley comes with the cavalry.”

“Or at least loot his coffers,” Dustin replied. “Let’s not forget about that. He’s got altogether too much loot gathering dust down in that treasury.”

Despite the mayor’s call for help, Asmodeus remained patient. After all, it would take nearly twenty days for the messenger to reach Lysidia, and at least that long again for Lord Isley to take action.

But his repose was shaken just two days later when Elandra delivered her most recent discovery.

“There’s a servant of the Corbain family here in town. He’s making preparations for his master to visit Fallerun.

“Apparently word of the town’s trouble has already reached Lysidia. Xav Corbain is calling for a new mayor to be appointed. This is undoubtedly part of a political maneuver against his long-time rival, Bernard Isley. When news of Renferell’s letter reaches the royal court — and I’m sure it will, Renferell isn’t as covert as his uncle — then things will get interesting.

“My guess is that we’ll see nobles here within two weeks. They’ll no doubt come in force; no member of the King’s court would travel this far without their soldiers, and Renferell’s cry for help will only make them more paranoid. Expect a small army.”

Asmodeus was speechless as he processed this information.

“Cheer up,” Elandra said. “Your goal is all but accomplished. Renferell will be ousted and the Isley family will certainly lose face over this.”

I think that this will end this chapter. The next chapter will pick up right away, so let me know what the party would like to do next. We may even continue with the same conversation w/ Elandra, if Asmodeus (or anyone else) has anything to say about this.

I expect that you’ll want to raid the treasury sometime soon. You’ll probably want to discuss how long you’ll remain in town — the coming of the nobles may make it a dangerous place.

Here’s some info about things that happened over the last few weeks:
- Asmodeus paid 540 gp for Elandra’s necklace. Be sure to mark that from your money.
- Dustin has now slept with Elandra. Asmodeus doesn’t know about this, but he has his suspicions.
- Dustin is making good progress in learning Draconic, but it will take time before he’s ready to really converse in it. So far he’s learned the very basics; he can now say simple phrases like “hello” or “please don’t eat me.”
- The previous chapters plus Gaimon’s recent time training Inque has paid off. Gaimon no longer has a penalty in making Handle Animal checks for Inque. But the rest of the party still has a -2 penalty (should they try).
- Nock has had some decent performances, but none spectacular (too bad about those rolls). Nevertheless, he managed to earn 10 gp in this poor town.
- Nock was the most influential person in gathering information around town, followed by Asmodeus.

Also, I’m going to need everyone to pay for “upkeep” (i.e. paying for food, lodging, and other misc. expenses). Rather than try to do a day-by-day upkeep, I think I’d like to use the “Variant: Upkeep” as described in the DMG on pg. 130. Please take a look at that sidebar and pay according to how your characters would like to live for the (in-game) month of October.

I know I pushed through a lot of information in this last post. So feel free to ask if you have any questions.

“Trading one noble idiot for another wasn’t what I had in mind.” The wizard sat back, hands coming together and a smile growing on his face. “But there are ways we can use this to our advantage.”

Asmodeus will want to move fast. With a mere two weeks, there isn’t much time for subtlety. Their plan of attack is three-pronged.

First, Dustin is to do his best to get Jake all conspiratorial. Have drinks with the servant of the Corbain family, then talk about the things that were mentioned to Jake! The Corbain family were behind the assassination attempt! He’s not safe with them coming to town!

Second, Asmodeus and Gaimon will try to rile up the militia. “You don’t need more nobles! All they do is get in the way, thinking they know how to run our town better than we do!” says Asmodeus. Gaimon will nod assertively. “I’ve seen it before. Fight now, or you will forever be under the boot of Validras!” Rioting against the mayor is the end goal, but this may not be achievable in two weeks. Nock should help by continuing to perform shows about rebellions and evil kings and tyrants, etc. like he did back when Gnolls seemed to be attacking, to aid this plan. Also, occasional suggestion spells, etc. would very much come in handy. Heck, even daily suggestion spells, etc. Get the right community leaders in the right mood.

With Renferell going all paranoid, and the militia riled up, things could get messy fast. Hopefully some spark can light the powder keg they’ve been so carefully crafting. I’m open to suggestions as to what that spark can be from you, Karasu, but seems to me the imminent arrival of more nobles and more soldiers would certainly weigh on the minds of the populace. If we can get a riot or some form of rebellion started, that would be the opportune moment to sneak in, grab the loot, and sneak out. That is part three. The group does not want to be around when the other nobles show up.

Ideally, Asmodeus would like Jake, Jorn, and Grosh all dead by the end. We’ll see. For now, let’s focus on the first two parts of the plan, though Asmodeus would be plotting with Dustin on the best way to get the loot. It also appears Elandra has a bag of holding as well, looking over the past chapters. Does she want in on this caper? We could certainly use it.

I’ve updated my character sheet with the deducted money for both upkeep and for Elandra’s necklace.

And now, I’m off to my wedding and honeymoon! Have fun storming the castle!

Though Dustin seems doubtful about their chances of coming out on top of this situation, surprisingly, the most vocal opponent to Asmodeus’ plan is Nock:

“This is madness talk!” he snarls, a bit feisty after too many long nights. “If nobleman be coming and with army, they kill all townsmen who fight. I’s say keep to shadows. Take money, kill Renferrel, leave town. We’s no chance of winning fight with armies. This town burn altogether before we’s win.”

Dustin is a little more conciliatory. He offers to scout on his horse the road the army is expected to take. “Or, better yet, send your raven that way and report back on numbers and equipment,” he says, giving the crafty bird a wary look. “If it can do that sort of thing.” (Apparently, he’s uncomfortable with feathered flying animals.)

Ashe also really wants his gold. He’s poking his nose all over the fort whenever he visits Jake. Are there any doors besides the main entrance? Any of them out of the way? Where does Braithwaite sleep? DM, can you give me a basic rundown on the architecture and layout of the fort? Dustin’s looking for possible entrances or places that are less watched and easily scaled.

Nock wants into the fort too, but just to assassinate Jake. He really wants the job done, especially since circumstances pressure him to leave town soon.

Dustin is excited to go fight the dragon, although the way he talks about the adventure he almost sounds like he wants to make friends with the beast. Nock really just wants to kill Jake. So far, he hasn’t mentioned the demonic quests at all. He’s got a one-track mind.

I’m rethinking this. Give me a bit to mull it over. I’ll post later today.

Edit: I think it would be a very interesting conversation between all our characters if it followed this gray box’s general outline. Asmodeus gets all complicated, Nock begins his outburst, Dustin tries to reassure everybody, Corbinian says “I can” in response to Dustin’s query, Nock continues his outburst, then . . .

Asmodeus looks at Nock after his outburst, then pauses. He puts his hands together, clearly thinking and pondering. After a very long moment, everybody waiting for him to make his decision (he would hold up a hand to silence anybody from talking to him while he thinks) he leans forward.

“You’re right, my diminuitive friend. I believe we should wrap up our work here quickly. The time for planning is over. It’s time to act.” He gives a curt nod to the gnome.

“Gaimon and I will still go talk to McArthur, see if we can’t get him to trust nobles less, and tell him we’re going to be leaving soon. You would still do well to influence the key leaders of the militia, but it’s time to cut and run. I’m thinking of framing Grosh for the murder of the mayor. Under the payment of the Corbinian family, of course.” He looks over at Dustin. “Instead of riling the mayor up, we need him to have a false sense of security.” He changes his voice to one of near complete unconcernedness. “The army will be here soon. The Outcasts are scattered. He’s safe.” Then Asmodeus’ tone changes abruptly back to seriousness.

“Hopefully he, and his men, won’t be on as much guard. So we need to know how to get in. Where does Renferell sleep? Jorn? Where are the dungeons? What are the guards like at night? Where are they posted? Could we have you supply them with some wine as a celebration? What kind of distraction could we generate inside the fort itself?” He smiles. “I’m willing to bet, for example, that we could get a nice big fire started. That would keep them occupied for a few minutes, I wager.” He looks at Nock. “We might need you to go grab that staff of fire and the electric greatsword. With the treasury to loot, I don’t think we’ll need any of the rest of the armor to sell, just the jewels and things. We can leave the heavy stuff and beat a hasty retreat out of town.”

Then he turns to Dustin. “So, talk to us about the fort.”

I assume, DM, that you could just supply Dustin’s conversation at this point. And is Elandra in on this caper, or not?



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