After the trials the adventurers were greeted with the most deserving friendliness and helpfulness they could have asked for from the citizens of Saarnia, except from the royal guards, whose numbers seemed in increase as the day went on and whose reluctance to speak increased just the same. Captain Gerard did however promise Rhogar that he would receive a messenger pigeon detailing military orders so that he would be up to speed on what was expected of him as the High General of the armed forces. Dae was called on an important diplomatic mission to Xezzimidi, to speak to the halfling community there and inform them that Nomastad was halfling friendly, and they may find residence within its boundaries if they wished. The rest of the party explored more of their now home city in an attempt to determine what transpired at the castle two weeks prior, which had the full attention of the citizens.
When asked, every citizen had a different version of what may have transpired, but the general theme of the incident was that Queen Venetta and Princess Zethriel disappeared and that the King is worried about their whereabouts. The adventurers were pointed in the direction of the orphanage, where the Queen and Princess would spend most their time, and where their absence was now most prevalent. While Oneshoe, Jariah and Tepot visited the orphanage, Rhogar decided he had gone long enough without a drop of ale, so he visited the pub across the street, only to encounter another dragonborn tending the bar. Frasanz Titansword, the bartender of the Gilded Boar, was delighted to see another dragonborn especially one that had achieved such a high military rank. Frasanz informed Rhogar of the existence of a military organization, The Brotherhood of the Just, that opposed the military traditions and actions of the Alliance which are being controlled by a rival faction called The Order of the Wolf. These factions piqued the interest of Rhogar but he left Frasanz to return to the company of his party.
At the orphanage, the headmaster, a man named Kabir Sotzk, was not keen on speaking with government officials since he felt that the government was not supporting his cause of running the orphanage. Previously the farmers of Taivas would donate their excess crops to the orphanages and widowhouses of Nomastad, but lately the shipments had stopped coming in and the orphans and widows were going without food. Kabir wanted to help the adventurers’ investigation, but he felt deserving of help from them first, perhaps to discern their trustworthiness. If the children were fed, he would tell them what he knew about the disappearance of the Queen and the Princess. At first the adventurers were not keen on aiding Kabir since they felt he was probably just trying to use them without proper reward, so they left the orphanage, rejoined Rhogar, and continued to ask more citizens about the royal family.
After a short while the adventurers thought that perhaps it was time to do some light shopping now that they had some change in their pockets and were welcomed wherever they went. Oneshoe went to the bookstore, looking perhaps for a tome to increase in magical prowess, and met the old elf Bali Twosky who ran the shop. Twosky was ashamed that she didn’t have anything good to read in her shop, but let Oneshoe know that if great books he sought, the wizard tower in Yliapisto was the place to go. She asked that if he ever made it out to the tower that she would be grateful if Oneshoe brought back a book for her, one that her mother had read to her many years ago called “Changeling in the Stars.” By the time he returned, maybe she may even find something better among the many stacks of uncategorized and dusty books she had sitting about that may suit Oneshoe’s scholarly needs.
Rhogar decided that he did not like the platinum laced gloves he had received as a gift, so he went shopping for a new pair at the leathersmith. The leathersmith, a half-orc named Urin, was happy to make the dragonborn new gloves, if perhaps by unconventional methods of measurement, and mentioned that if ever the adventurers wanted to hear his tale he would gladly tell it. The adventurers thought that perhaps they had heard enough tales for one day so they excused themselves from Urin’s shop and went back to investigating. Jariah suggested that he should transform into a guard and enter the castle to investigate the source, but the risk seemed too high, so Oneshoe turned into a rat and climbed through a sewer pipe to gather intel within Stonewolf’s walls.
Oneshoe found much of the castle the same as before, but when he followed a maid to the inner tower, he encountered the king in his chamber looking sick as a dog. Captain Gerard made another appearance and the two talked about increasing the search effort in the Astendra Plains to find the Queen and Princess. Captain Gerard mentioned that he had imprisoned a half-orc in the dungeons and was torturing him to speak. Gerard felt as though either the half-orcs did not know anything or where so loyal that they may never speak. Either way, their efforts were being wasted. The King did not appreciate the sentiment, and vowed to kill every orc or half-orc from the Plains to Ibatesh in the effort to find his family. With this information at hand, Oneshoe rejoined his party outside the castle wall and informed them of what transpired. The adventurers realized their mistake, that maybe they shouldn’t have dismissed poor Urin who just wanted to share his tale since he may have crucial information as to the whereabouts of the Queen and Princess being a half-orc himself. When they returned to his shop, they found it closed with a guard at post, and inferred that he had already been taken into custody.
Feeling like they had reached a dead end in their investigation, the adventurers decided it was time to pursue their initial lead and head to Taivas to deal with the farmers. They hopped on the first farmer wagon they found and made their way to the farming province of Taivas. Once there they met a very peculiar and spunky farmer named Varto Feneges who pointed them in the direction of the governor’s manor. According to Varto, Nol Dotsk, the governor of Taivas, had ordered that all unsold crops be put into his storehouses at his manor hence the lack of food going to the orphanage. The adventurers encountered hostiles at the governor’s manor and when the hostiles were defeated the adventurers realized that these vandals had killed the governor and been posing as him, ordering the farmers to feed them for free. Rhogar suggested that they could not leave Taivas unruled (and Jariah quickly agreed), so they asked Varto to step into the position, provided that he would give his word that the orphanages and widowhouses be fed from now on. Varto agreed and was happy to give the adventurers his wagon, filled with food for the orphans, to return home to Saarnia.
The adventurers rejoined Kabir at the orphanage and informed him that the deed had been done. Surprisingly Kabir did have more information about the whereabouts of the royal family. Kabir mentioned that he had noticed that the Queen and Princess were missing. He tried to get in contact with the King but any attempt at an audience with was rejected. For the last few months, the Princess had been showing up with bruises around her wrists as if she was being dragged by her arms or held down forcefully. The Queen often tried to cover her up whenever the bruises peeked behind the elaborate ribbons she would wear. Kabir knows that no one in the castle will talk, but not everyone that has access to the castle lives there. There are merchants that bring in flowers daily, as well as fresh vegetables and cheeses. He suggested that the adventurers speak to the guide at the marketplace since she was often personally responsible to deliver the goods to the castle.
Once more the adventurers followed the lead, and they met privately with the guide, a half-elf woman named Ryelly Snakesore. Ryelly was happy to help since she too was worried about the royal family and felt as though the military was not doing its job. She said that Princess Zethriel got involved with a foreign boy, whom the King hated. Queen Venetta did not want her daughter being forced to marry for political reasons as she had been many years ago, so she helped her daughter hide her relationship with the boy. Ryelly would often see the princess board trading caravans in disguise and leave the city to meet this boy. Two weeks prior, a suspicious group of brawny men came into the city under the pretense of religious observance at the Shrine of Malar. A large commotion broke out at the castle and since then the Queen and Princess have been missing. Ryelly suspects that the foreign boy may be behind this commotion. The boy’s name is Zamtaruk, an orcish name.
By the time they had gathered all of this information, it was nightfall, and so the adventurers returned to their chambers only to continue to be puzzled. Their pursuit to answer the question of what transpired at the castle only raised further questions. Who was Zamtaruk? Was he an orc or half-orc? Did Princess Zethriel get kidnapped or did she run away with Zamtaruk? Can they trust Captain Gerard? They would soon find the answers to these questions.