To Rise from the Ashes

Meanwhile, near the Toppled Tree Mine
...work had proceeded apace for months...

Allyn knew it was the only way, if there was to be any hope at all. Rourke had two men – two strong, fast men who’d served as runners before, knew the land between the hills and New Cyre, and were tough and wily enough to make it back. Maybe.

The miners had collapsed the entrance to the mine and continued to hang their hopes on a few things: that the goblins would not find the stope, that they rotten critters wouldn’t find another means of entry, and that their food and water wouldn’t run out before relief came.

If news of their plight ever reached New Cyre, that is.
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It’d been a few days already since their supply wagon had been attacked, and then the two camps. The hordes came on quickly and aggressively, and even with guards and men taking up arms their numbers were too great and their surprise too decisive. Seeking shelter in the mine itself was their only option aside from surrender, which was not an option – everyone knew goblins enjoyed eating their captives.

And so the two young miners – one of them from that group of POWs freed from Thrane, in fact – crouched before Allyn as they decided on a plan, general routes for them, and gave them what useful supplies were at hand. They’d take different routes, and their departure would be from the stope, to the west of the main entrance and uphill, and from the small tunnel to the south that was the original means by which the mine was found – where the spiders had been several months before. If they headed out separately, and stealthily, maybe they’d make it.

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The Post of Many Secrets
...but only if you seek them out...

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Since we’re skipping a week I thought I’d throw some story bones your way. I think it’d be best to hand-wave several days or even a few weeks of game time so as to give you the opportunity to settle on what to do with the money, decide where to go next, and initiate any story threads you’ve been considering. I’ll start off with some narrative and some questions, and where you go as a group, and as individuals, from it will be based on your responses.


Aside from Amarack being recognized, your stay in Starilaskur is pretty calm, should you try to keep it that way. It’s a medium-sized city with a Lightning Rail, which means a consistent in- and out-flow of people as cover. How long will you stay? Will you contact Prince Oargev, Bowdry ir’Divar, or one of your other contacts from New Cyre? Will you head back to New Cyre? If you spend about a week in Starilaskur then head back by caravan to New Cyre you’ll have been gone from there for about five weeks – perhaps that’s enough time for things to calm down?

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Hello Starilaskur!
contacts & information

Steppin Tohma isn’t too hard to find, now that you know his haunts and you’ve helped him turn a profit. House Kundarak has two locations in the city: its main facility, where it offers all of the House’s services, and a smaller satellite location near the Lightning Rail station that only handles money and identification documents. A visit to the local Chamber of Commerce reveals that Cobb’s is no longer in business, or at least registered to do business in Breland, for obvious reasons.

Who is handling the money? What else do you want to try and learn, if anything? What sort of accommodations do you get, and what sort of a profile do you maintain while in the city? Do you contact Prince Oargev or anyone else in New Cyre? How long do you intend on staying in the city, and do you intend to return to New Cyre upon departing?

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Leaving the Mournland
discoveries made, secrets learned, and items recovered

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There were a lot of documents and other items found in the house, and I’ll summarize each thing & type of document below, instead of writing a narrative.

Documents

  • Concerning legitimate mercantile operations almost entirely in Cyre – these were mundane in nature and detailed the front operations run, at least in large part, out of the manor.
  • Concerning management of field operatives in Breland and Thrane – there are intelligence reports, expense reports for these operations, and contact logs for agents in those countries. Most of this stuff is war-related, and thus seems useless in that it’s out of date. Perhaps the names and locations would mean something if you sunk a lot of time into reading through and analyzing them.
  • Concerning assassinations as carried out by the ‘Champions of the Bell,’ in Thrane. Three were ordered; two were carried out; ugly proof of one was found.
  • Concerning ‘Lark,’ an agent – a mole or turncoat is uncertain – in Thrane, managed by a case officer named ‘Garbo.’

Magic Items

  • Bag of Holding
  • Ring of Protection +1
  • Longsword, Thundering, + 1 (+d6 damage, target knocked back 5 feet – still need to detail the rules on this)
  • Wand of Magic Missiles (8 charges right now; need to detail the rules on it, too)
  • Necklace of Stealth – provides for invisibility and silence for wearer…need to detail rules!
  • +1 Studded Leather armor, two suits
  • Marshal’s Baton, provides +1 to CHA-related checks to intimidate, convince, or control others
  • Sending stones, one pair, 2/day 25 words
  • Five ‘pass pins,’ attuned to the four suits of armor in the building – one ring, one necklace, two pins, and a belt.

Interesting Items

  • A Thrane general’s head, along with the guy’s dress jacket and sash
  • Assassin’s utility belt: poison knife, masterwork lockpick tools, three knockout cloth vials
  • Two tomes on poisons and other ‘medicinal’ concoctions
  • Fancy bell used to open MAJESTIC store
  • Two warforged scouts, inert
  • Two warforged warrior heads
  • One larger warforged head

Wealth

  • 18 Kundarak credit vouchers of unknown value
  • Equivalent of (??) GP – I know there was at least 130 worth, but I made up a few of the amounts on the fly as you dug into things and places I’d not detailed completely, so if someone can provide place & amount I’d appreciate it.
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Further Exploration of the Site
or, breaking, entering, and looting

Amarack and Thaldayn are able to find a replacement door in the basement to use as a levitating litter. The bodies in the basement hidden room are the first to go, and after some work on the inside and outside of the cellar doors they are brought up the ramp and into the yard. Not far from the house is a kitchen garden with relatively loose soil, making for a good makeshift burying ground. The body in the foyer is easy to bring out the back doors to the garden, and Amarack is able to carry the body of the old woman – who was petite and frail – downstairs. The entire task takes a few hours, and is done by what passes for nightfall in the Mournland – that is, a progressive dimming of the diffused light behind the grey mist above.

Luc has some fun baiting the suits of armor with his Mage Hand, which only activates them when it gets to near the middle of the room – about where you folks reached when they came alive earlier in the day. They do appear to be activated by a physical presence in the room, as the spell alone does not trigger them; it must be wielding something. A lantern worked fine, and so did a chess board. Luc spends about 20 or 30 minutes doing this, and then alternates between helping with the burials and assisting Deaton in digging for documents.

Deaton goes searching around the main house, the kitchen, and the gallery that connects the foyer with the ‘entertainment house’ where the suits of armor are standing guard. Does Deaton attempt to get into that other building – either the rest of the ground floor or second story – by any means, or does he spend his time in the two structures just mentioned? Fully searching those two will take a long time – at least as many hours as the burials will require.


I’ll update with comments and player secrets after your initial comments.

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The Manor House, partially explored
some things confirmed; new questions arise

Meta
I’m going to summarize this outside of the story, otherwise I think it would be a very long post.

Deaton, Luc, and Amarack explored the foyer and main room downstairs. The body had a permanent speaking stone in its hand, along with a key in its belt pouch. There were a few everbright lanterns and other light-emitting surfaces in the room, all dulled as if the magic had been partially drained. Luc also found a magic pen that he later discovered could write in invisible and disappearing ink. The group decided to go downstairs, through a locked door under the stairs, into the basement. The key in the dead guy’s pocket opened the stout door, and down the stairs they went.

The primary basement was a mostly typical storage room, with jarred food and other household supplies. There were also some larger boxes that looked a little out of place. A pair of large doors were on the southern wall, and through those they went to find something of a loading dock-style room, complete with a ramp that led up to a pair of cellar doors they’d seen outside. The room had in it a two-person carriage, which was later found to have 100GP plus documents and maps and spoiled rations hidden under its seat; there was also a large wall rack of clothing – coats, cloaks, and other varied clothes – some with hidden pockets containing more money. A work table was also there, concealed from outside view through the cellar doors by a wooden wall.

Luc found a glamoured secret door in the back, wooden, wall, and was able to open it and then Deaton was able to pick the lock on the strong door. Amarack, while this was going on, found more odd clothing and personal items, mostly boxed by type, in some of the crates in the primary basement. He also found a dumb waiter in the corner, seemingly to allow stores to be brought up to the kitchen and food to be brought down to the basement.

When the heavy door was picked and pushed open, the backside of it showed evidence of an ad hoc attempt to further bar it, with some boards nailed into the frame. On the other side there was a room with some tables and a couch, and two doors – one normal-sized, on the the right, and other other in the back wall consisting of two larger doors on a sliding rail. There were three bodies – two male humans and a half-elf female. The female was gripping another sending stone, the mate of the one found upstairs, and in it were stored two messages: one from Luc – “who dares, wins” muttered in an attempt to open-sesame the door; and other other left from years in the past: “I can see a wave! It’s massive! Sovereigns save us…it’s here – around me! I…” the man’s voice, strained with fear and every ounce of resolve he had left, was almost drowned out in the last seconds by a roar.

Thaldayn, throughout this, was usually a room or two behind them, keeping watch.

The three proceeded through the regular door and found a suite of four small sleeping rooms arrayed around a central work room, complete with maps, fake documents, intel reports, and other leftovers of a clandestine operations safe house. Luc took note of the types and quantity of documents for later perusal.

Finally, all four of them decided to go through the two sliding doors, which were sealed together with a gilded painting of the arms of Cyre, with the Five Crowns insignia – that of the Cyran intel agency. The doors were also sealed all around by a thick wax. With some prying and pulling they dragged them apart, and shedding light into the next room revealed a floating head/mouth beastie, about 3 feet across, with four eye-stalks waving in the air. The thing’s main eye and four satellite eyes glowed in the darkness, and it told them in a deep, monotone telepathic voice to stop, that they were not to enter unless authorized, and that they’d face attack if they did. The telepathic voice was accompanied by an unintelligible buzzing/chattering voice. Conversation with the thing was business-only, with it refusing to reveal details of its “contract” and it being clear that they were not allowed in the room unless they could provide “authorization.” It was also clear to Amarack, after a prolonged attempt to talk with the thing, that it was purely alien in intellect.
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Leaving the thing to its darkness, they closed the doors and decided to explore more of the house. The wind/wailing sound had continued, and they found its source in the well-appointed attic suite, where a windstorm/ghost woman was wailing about, kicking up lavender dust and screaming about how Cyre was dead. She attacked, and Luc and Amarack fought back, eventually destroying her. In the next room they found the corpse of an old, seemingly sickly woman who, it appeared to Deaton, had poisoned herself with wine and a deadly powder. The 2nd floor of the main house had nice rooms in it – they types that the permanent residents would have used.

The one-story building between the main house and the other one was split in two – partially a kitchen & entertainment staff prep area, and the other a gallery of art. Following the latter route they group went found that half of the other building’s first floor was an open entertainment area, complete with more art, some musical instruments, and four decorative suits of armor, which all attacked when the group entered the room. Despite their good attempts, the team got whooped on some, with Amarack taking a bell-ringer to the head and a few body blows, knocking him out. Once the group retreated from the room the suits went back to their corners.

And that’s where we ended. The group decided to stay the night in the spy quarters downstairs, and to reverently move and cover the three bodies – don’t know where you’d decided to put them, however. Remember that damage can only be healed using HD up to half your maximum. Deaton and Thaldayn have not taken damage yet so that doesn’t impact them, but Luc and Amarack are both limited to half HP at this point. There are a ton of documents in the hidden room, no food that’s not spoiled, and only seemingly fouled (or at least stale) water.

What are you going to do? You’ve explored most of the main house – you never went through the southern doors out of the entry room on the first floor – and you’ve not made it to the roof of the connecting building, nor the other rooms or upstairs area(s) of the northern entertainment building. We can take care of a lot of exploration and documents-digging online…let’s do that.

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Inside the Manor House
it feels like home, but dead

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The first floor of the main house looks like these pictures indicate, albeit with some more furniture. There is a body laying, seemingly dead, in the foyer, around which there is a scorched circle on the floor a few feet out from the corpse. The body – a man – is dressed in Cyran-style clothing and is on his stomach, feet toward the front door, arms spread out to his sides.

The stairs are on the right side of the foyer, and the doorway next to the stairs leads into that one-story wing that connects the main house with the side building.
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The place is really musty, and there’s a layer of light lavender-colored dust over everything, and the foyer does not appear to have been disturbed in a long time. It’s pretty opulent, but not ostentatious by Cyran standards, so to everyone else it seems pretty stylish, but to a Cyran it seems a little muted…dignified. There is a sound of moving air from upstairs in the main house – like air rushing through a partially-open window, with a changing tone…like a low whistling wind.

Aside from the body there is no one else here, nor evidence of anyone else having been here. The back windows, opening to the yard, are closed, but with a few broken, the glass laying on the floor inside the room.

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Terrynwell Manor
it was a nice place, once

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The grounds of the manor were once neatly-trimmed and manicured – the type of place that old money buys and maintains for generations. The trees are likely centuries old, along with the house. It’s likely that multiple generations of a noble family called this home, or at least the ‘home base’ of their clan. Now it’s all dead, barren, and frozen in time.

The house itself is two stories high, with a large roof patio – like a beer garden on a building top. This is a common feature of Cyran houses, providing people with a nice place to relax, visit, and see the sights. It’s all stone construction, and although some of the windows are broken, overall it’s in very good condition – much better than what you saw in town. There are a few smaller stone buildings off both side, tucked behind what used to be shrubs and trees. These are probably stables and storage buildings. The gravel path that leads from the entry gate forms a lazy half-moon in front of the house, which has steps up to a grand entrance of double doors under a covered patio. Think Versailles or some other classical French chateau and you wouldn’t be far off.
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Note: please ignore the greenery…it’s all dead! And that’s the back of the main building. The stables are right behind where this is viewed from, and the front gate is about 200 yards to the right of the other side of the building (the wide side).

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"There are four of them..."
...all meatbags...

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Fleet stood still, something that was very easy for a Warforged, after providing his report and showing where the interlopers had moved from, through, to, and where it seemed they were headed. The detailed model of the city had proved very useful in keeping track of outsiders.

Hal gazed over the map and turned back to the small scout. “Well done. So you say they fought with deadeaters in the temple?” asked the larger ’forged, remarkable among the few in the room by his asymmetrical arms, a product of field-expedient repairs.

“Yes, sir – they entered the temple to the Host and certainly destroyed however many deadeaters were there. We also spotted several of the creatures roaming outside, as usual,” reported Fleet. “They stayed the night in the building, periodically keeping watch from the tower, and then set out toward the northern hills this morning. One of them is a skilled scout, and they as a group appear to be skilled as soldiers, in general,” he added.

The larger ’forged nodded again and pondered the situation before again speaking. More meatbags were entering the city and region as time passed, requiring a balanced approach to maintaining order and control. Resources needed to be apportioned wisely for maximum utility. This was his charge as sector commander, and the Lord of Blades expected results.
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“They are still under surveillance?” asked Hal, already knowing the answer.

“Yes, sir – we have eyes on them and the other group that entered our lands from the mist this morning.”

“Good. Keep me informed, and ensure that both groups are never left completely alone – but work harder to stay out of sight this time…” he let the last words trail off as he turned and left the room, letting them chide the scout just a bit, and thereby driving home his commander’s admonition to be more stealthy in the future. Fleet realized his mistake and began processing ways to better train and deploy his scouts. He’d not get a second chance.

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Downtime, then forward
enough with this r & r! there's work to be done!

A few weeks had passed before things started to settle into a new normal in New Cyre. The Cyran troops had all decided to stay, and were steadily being integrated into society and the economy. A few had been hired on with the Metrol Watch; some joined the miners; and the rest sought work in a variety of fields, mercantile and otherwise. Dayn Thirpyo, having demonstrated his prowess and reliability during the escape, was brought on as a guard and scout with the Seawall Miners’ Guild.

The orphans at Anson Mount‘s place were regaled of the daring escape – more as a form of motivation than ego-stroking, of course. And many, many rounds of ale were bought for the three leaders of the effort, despite their requests to keep things discrete. It was simply impossible to maintain anonymity, given what had happened. Daryess Thrimblethor, reporter-at-large for the Koranberg Chronicle, seemed to sense an ongoing story and had agreed to keep their names out of the paper – although he knew them himself. He’d left his card with Deaton, asking that if they stumbled onto anything newsworthy in the future that they contact him.

Deaton, Amarack, Rogert, and now Thaldayn and the two Cyran officers, had also met with Prince Oargev and Bowdry ir’Divar on two occasions, discussing matters of the past and future. Thaldayn was motivated and capable, and had asked the three rescuers point-blank if he could join them on whatever future work they might decide to do. He could tell that town security would be a waste of their talents, and that they were not men who would sit idle while New Cyre’s future was determined by others. Being a man of action himself, and eager to make up for lost time taken by Thrane, he pledged himself to their cause, whatever it might be.


“…and so there is no way for us to truly repay you for what you did, or what you suffered,” the Prince said to the three regulators and the former POWs. “New Cyre has already gained new breath from this homecoming – our spirit has grown. And in practical terms, our workforce has, too. Capable men are needed, and we’ve improved our lot.”

The after dinner conversation continued for some time, meandering into matters both serious and light, with a positive and optimistic air permeating all talk. Over a simple but tasty selection of desserts, Bowdry ir’Divar drew the conversation around him and, with a nod from the prince, brought up the matter that the two nobles had discussed since soon after ‘The Return,’ as it was popularly labeled.

“Thrane will not take this lightly,” he began. “And while they cannot do much of anything direct, aside from play stupid in peddling the excuse of ‘rogue actors’ and ‘post-war mixups,’ we must assume that they will hold a grudge against New Cyre….” he let the word hang in the air, “…and you.” The prince watched, his fingers steepled and his eyes cast down at the table around which they sat. ir’Divar continued.

“Our new home requires much, and much of us. Allies, alliances, resources, trade – the obvious things that will establish and promote us. We also require security, which could be fleeting for us. To have security with such small numbers, such pitiful means as compared against the other nations, and on borrowed land…” he again let the thought hang in the air.

“…We need the means to know our enemies, and to defeat them on our terms. We need knowledge and the power it brings, and objects of power, and the opportunities they bring,” he finished, smiling slightly at the prince. Oargev inhaled slowly through his nose and made eye contact with each of the men at the table.

“We have leads on several possibilities that might end in the things and knowledge we need. Out of respect for you through your accomplishments, it is only fitting that you are a party to the decision. There are some who believe that there are artifacts that survived the Mourning, still in Metrol, or perhaps my family’s winter estate outside the city. I am wary of sending anyone into our former home, but the evidence I’ve seen is strong – strong enough to make it worth considering. We are also on the verge of sending a mission to the Mror Holds to negotiate the release of accounts belonging to deceased Cyran nobility, rightfully ours now. It will be a delicate and potentially dangerous journey, and will need protection from people I can trust. There is more to this issue, but we can save that for a future discussion,” the prince stated before he drew a long drink from his goblet.

“Finally, there are the mines. Not the ones you helped clear not too long ago, but those that were Cyran for centuries before the War, and before Darguun’s treachery. Sadly, we cannot reclaim those lands now – not yet, at least. But I am curious about what of value might be found sealed within the tunnels – tunnels that were collapsed decades ago when the hobs rose up against us. If there is only a fraction of the gold and gemstones left, smuggling them out would make for a very significant boon to our home.”

“Let me close with this, my friends: you have done New Cyre a great service, and an even greater one to Cyrans. But you have also raised the blood of Thrane, and their eyes will be on you. We believe that it would be best if, for a time, you were busy doing things that helped you maintain a low profile,” he stated, as serious a tone as they’d heard from him.

“And now to your questions, which I’m sure you have – what interests you? How would you like to continue your excellent service to New Cyre?” he asked, smiling broadly.

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