February 7th, the PCs leave “The Thrown Gauntlet” and walk back to “The Regal Gardens” inn. Once there, Tansy pays for last night and prepays for the next 7 days. Most of the group goes about their business awaiting the next part of the plan. Tansy and Belamdil go to bed to catch up on much lost sleep. Reeve, however, summons Kealani to his room.
During their conversation, Reeve reveals that Master Rosenridge was the one who hired the guild to steal the skulls. Reeve also informs Kealani that the guild threatened the life of Guardian Frostbrand to ensure Reeve’s compliant nature with the whole encounter. Kealani’s reaction was anger. First that Tansy wasted “the favor” on information that they already knew instead of using it to retrieve the skulls. Second that the guild was threatening the life of innocent who was not involved, a Paladin no less. Kealani is committed to destroying the sage, his apprentice if necessary, and to the dismantling of the Riol’s guild thieves and would-be assassins.
Kealani reports that the sage’s assistant, that morning before dawn, traveled through back alleys and side streets to the “Thrown Gauntlet”, but shortly after entering came back out angry and empty handed. He then returned to the university. Reeve assigns Kealani to keep surveillance on the apprentice. If he returns to “The Thrown Gauntlet” and gets the skulls, take them from him, but, Reeve is uncertain how culpable the apprentice is and instructs Kealani to not harm him is possible.
Reeve then travels to the shrine of Glo’ir and informs Guardian Frostbrand of what happened and how she was targeted. She fears attempting anything within the city against the Sage or the Guild could be foolish, the government is quite corrupt. She agrees to help in any way she can, though. Reeve returns to the inn to get some sleep.
That night, Belamdil dreams…
A young girl is being chased across a field and harassed by a cloaked figure; you cannot see his face in the shadows of the hood. He is wearing black leather gauntlets and he is holding a golden torch with blue flames. An owl sits on a nearby tree branch observing the scene, beneath the owl is a shadowy, bipedal beast. The cloaked figure drags the girl to the beast. It begins to devour the girl in a bloody display, her screams drowned out by its snarls and the crunching of bone. As it feasts upon her flesh, the cloaked figure seems to grow more formidable in your sight.
The PCs split up. Reeve, Belamdil, and Enoch gather information about Master Rosenridge from the University guards and learn he spends much of his time with Lady Mycroft, a recently widowed noble woman who frequents parties and is not well respected. They also notice Kealani circling the University grounds and overhear the guards commenting…“There’s that hawk again” “Yeah, its the same one as yesterday.”
Tansy and the rest travel about the market selling loot and making purchases. Then they all meet back at the inn. That evening, Reeve summons Kealani off the apprentice and sends him to the Mycroft estate to watch for the Sage. This upsets Kealani as he thinks the apprentice should be apprehended once he picks up the skulls, but he agrees to do as Reeve suggests.
The PCs go to the University to check in with Isaac Reis. After bribing the gate guards to allow them entrance after the grounds of closed, the PCs arrive at Mister Rosenridge’s office. Isaac, surprised to see them, invites them in. They question him about his progress and how long Mister Rosenridge might take with his research. Isaac assures them that he is working diligently, scouring the new books that they retrieved, but he can not predict how long it might take. He suggests that they return the morning of the 10th and he will contact Mister Rosenridge for an update and inform them that morning. During this exchange, Belamdil was able to detect just the slightest twinge of fear in Isaac’s eyes each time Rosenridge was mentioned. After leaving the University, he shared this information with the others. This all seems to cast more suspicion on Mister Rosenridge, but the party still has nothing that can be classified as evidence of any wrong doing.
Tansy hits the streets that night to learn whatever she can about Rosenridge and the Lady Mycroft. She learns nothing of Rosenridge, but does discover the next “big event” the Lady Mycroft is likely to attend is a party being held by a Mister Winston Blake. She learns that the event will happen on the 12th at an event hall, “The Famous Lute”.
That night, Belamdil dreams again…
You are looking through someone else’s eyes. You are crawling through a tunnel, waist deep in water. You emerge into the bottom of a small, stone chamber, the bottom of a well perhaps. Looking up you see torch light from an opening about eight feet up, you hear a girl scream and the snarling of an animal. You climb quickly out of the shaft and are surprised by your last sight – talons pierce your eyes and screeching fills your ears. Blinded, you fall. Then you awaken as if landing in your bed.
That morning, Reeve and Tansy take separate routes to gather information. Reeve is seeking symbols and standards pertaining to Lady Mycroft, Mister Winston Blake, and who bears the golden torch with a blue flame per Belamdil’s request. He learns that the Mycrofts are represented by 3 bronze crosses on a red field. That Mister Blake uses a silver wagon wheel on a blue field, and the golden torch with a blue flame represents Baron Robert Mantle who has a keep and hamlet about 50 miles NE of Balkenport along the coast, still in Balkenshire.
Tansy learns of Mister Blake’s various business holdings and his where his modest home is. That he is a social climber seeking to enter the nobility and is willing to spend every last dime to achieve this goal. She also infiltrates and investigates “The Famous Lute”. She sneaks around learning the layout before she is caught and run off.
The PCs regroup at the “Regal Gardens” to share information around noon. Belamdil then reveals his dream and his concern that Lortranna may be in trouble. That this Baron Mantle is involved in some sort of unholy “deal” and somehow Nok’rosh is involved. He sends Tansy out to try and find Lortranna.
Later that night, Tansy finally gets a lead on Lortranna. A shifty fellow, who spent most of their time together admiring Tansy’s new ruby ring, claimed he had seen an elf woman with a symbol matching that of Faeramriel. He believed he could find her and would be willing to help if Tansy would do him a favor. He introduced himself as Bolt, and he wants Tansy to take him to “The Thrown Gauntlet” for introductions to Riol’s group. She agrees and tells him to meet her at “The Regal Gardens” when he had the information.
Bolt awakens Tansy early that morning stating that he has found Lortranna, that she is heading out of town and if they hurry, they can probably catch her at the North gate. Tansy quickly alerts the PCs and throws on her things, Bolt waits downstairs. As they come down stairs, Bolt gives her panicked “halt” sign while he hides and peeks out a window. He waves Tansy over, points out two men standing across the street from the Inn and identifies them as Prothero’s boys. He explains they are a rival guild to Riol and believes they are watching her.
After some discussion on how to handle this situation, Reeve decides to simply confront the two men. Reeve exits the Inn and heads directly toward them. As he approaches, the two men vacate the area in opposite directions. The PCs then proceed to the gate with Bolt sticking close to Tansy’s side explaining how he just saved her trying to further ingratiate himself to her.
Lortranna is found at the North gate, Belamdil pulls her aside and explains his most recent dream. He informs her that he will assist with her quest. The two of them determine that the ritual is likely to take place during the full moon giving them a few days. Mantle Bay is about a 3 day walk from here. Belamdil says that he has business to attend to, but to look for him by the 14th. Lortranna agrees and thanks him for the help.
Bolt then reminds Tansy of their date tonight, and separates from the group to prepare. He will meet her at “The Regal Gardens” at nine tonight. The PCs begin walking back to their inn when Belamdil notices a shimmer in the air above Tansy. It is determined to be a scrying sensor. Tansy immediately loses her cool and determines the source must be her new ring and attempts to remove it. She then learns that she can not remove the ring the Riol gave her. After more investigation and thought, Belamdil determines that the ring is not only protective, but seems to be a modified Jailer’s ring. At this point Tansy becomes quite irate and begins screaming at the nigh-invisible sensor over head and threatening to cut off her own finger to remove the ring. This causes quite a commotion in the streets and draws a lot of attention. The group final gets Tansy back to the inn and Belamdil assures her that he can attempt to remove the ring in the morning and convinces Tansy to not remove her own finger.
That evening, Tansy’s mood shifts again and she actual fixes her hair and dresses up for the meeting at the “Thrown Gauntlet”. All through the afternoon and the evening, it is hard to tell if she is angry at Riol, impressed with Riol, attracted to Riol, or all three combined. Bolt arrives just before nine, cleaned up and dressed to impress. He is very excited about this opportunity. Once again, before leaving, there is concerned expressed by Praxith and Reeve about Tansy going without an escort, and the discussion begins on how the entire group should covertly tail her. After many eye-rolls, Tansy agrees that the group can station itself at a near-by tavern called “The Clever Bunny”. The group then sets out.
Upon passing the “Bunny”, Tansy and Bolt continue on their own to the “Gauntlet” while the others crowd into the “Bunny”. It becomes quickly apparent that the “Clever Bunny” is a whorehouse with strippers and drinks. Reeve, Enoch, and Ethrias remove themselves from the premises and take up station on a bench across the street. The others, however, enter and take a table. It becomes quickly apparent that they are not welcome to just sit and visit and had better order drinks. Belamdil buys a round and after some time, more drinks are brought, even though they were not ordered. Belamdil just keeps paying and the waitress keeps delivering.
As Bolt and Tansy enter the “Thrown Gauntlet”, they fail to notice a hawk perch itself over on the roof over the door. The place is crowded and jovial, Tansy does notice that there are several pairs of eyes about the room that take notice of her and Bolt and track their movements. Tansy approaches the barkeep and before any requests can be made she is told, “Ah, he is expecting you, have a seat.” They sit under the watchful eyes of the common room.
After a few moments, a female half-elf approaches the table, introduces herself as Telent, and offers to escort Tansy to Riol. Bolt immediately stands with Tansy expecting to follow and Telent indicates that just Tansy should come. Bolt begins to protest, reminding Tansy that they had a deal and he is expecting a meeting with Riol. Tansy asks if he can come to which Telent replies, “I was told to not deny you any request, but I wouldn’t advise it.” Tansy takes the hint but Bolt does not and he requires much reassuring that Tansy has his best interest in mind and is not trying to renege on the deal. Tansy is then escorted upstairs, between to orc guards, and through a door. Telent holds the door for Tansy to enter and then excuses herself, leaving Tansy standing alone.
The room is ostentatious to say the least. Fur carpets, a horde of paintings and statuettes to decorate the room, the door way to the next room is covered in multi-colored sheer silk curtains. From the curtains Riol emerges wearing a very expensive and flashy robe and slippers on his feet. He warmly welcomes Tansy and leads into the curtained room where she sees more fur rugs and mounds of cushions and pillows for lounging. She also sees a small table set with a very fine meal, wine, and candle light. Riol insists that they eat before business, escorts her to the table and serves her.