Session 3

puzzle

Since their nomination, the adventurers had not yet carried out their duties as the High Council. Their time had been occupied almost entirely with shaking hands and kissing babies to gain favor in the eyes of the citizens of Nomastad and make their presence welcomed. Their first day on the job began with an eventful breakfast, where they met the mistress of the High Council Chambers, Madame Totruse. She regretfully informed the adventurers that during the night their comrade Dae Mayre left her position and went on a personal journey to find her family. After breakfast the adventurers made their way to the Courthouse where on a typical day they were to listen to the citizens of the kingdom in need of council.

Chester the bailiff let the adventurers into the courthouse and opened the doors for the first official day of council. The first case of the day happened to be a very special case brought forth by orders of the King. In a letter, the King requested that the High Council pick a new member, a High Inquisitor. The High Inquisitor was to be in charge of national security which hadn’t been properly ensured in the previous weeks which led to the disappearance of the Queen and Princess. Three candidates presented their case, Zal Mundo the drunken dwarf, Beatrice Strum the ditzy half-elf beauty, and Morday Reverence the tiefling rogue. Although Beatrice had a couple of very convincing arguments in her favor, the High Council chose Morday to be the High Inquisitor of Nomastad. Morday took his chair alongside the rest of the adventurers and together they continued with their day on the job.

The second case came from Taivas. A band of thieves was caught stealing newborn sheep from the farms of Taivas by inducing pregnant sheep, often times killing the mother. One of the thieves was caught by Farmer Josiah Ermund, who presented his case. Farmer Jo mentioned that the thief is from Ogden which has been conveniently doing well economically by selling woolly coats to the dwarfs mining deep within the mountains. Farmer Jo would not turn in the thief but claimed to be rehabilitating him through the power of the Eight, which is to say he was torturing the thief in his barn. Other farmers present in the courthouse supported Farmer Jo’s actions so that his example would deter future thieves from stealing their animals. A woman by the name of Jemma Dawn claimed to be the wife of the thief and asked that her husband be released since he was being unlawfully detained and had not been tried in court. She asked that he is returned to Ogden so that he may be tried by their judge for his crimes. Chester indicated that Ogden had been doing so well economically that it had begun trading with Nomastad once more. In the past, Ogden had not been very receptive to trading with Nomastad, which had been limiting the military development of Nomastad since Ogden controls a very rich iron deposit.

After deliberation, the adventurers concluded that they lacked enough information to make a final decision. They knew that they couldn’t let citizens take justice into their own hands, but they did not want to anger the mob of farmers that was present at the trial. They assured Jemma and Farmer Jo that they would reach a fair trial but needed to perform their own investigation first. A guard was assigned to both Jemma and Farmer Jo so that they could not leave the city and they were put up in a local inn. Three other soldiers were sent to collect the thief from the farmer’s barn to bring him to Saarnia for a proper trial, while two other soldiers were sent to Taivas to gather more information. Additionally, an ambassador was sent to Ogden to inform them of the situation so that they are not caught off guard by the possible sentencing of the thief if he is found guilty considering the thief is a citizen of Ogden and not Nomastad.

Before anyone had time to react to the verdict, a horn sounded in the distance and changed the mood of the room. People began to look nervous within the courtroom and scramble to get down the stairs and out of the door. Chester tried to calm the crowds but another horn sounded and made the crowd even more panicked, and in a frenzy, began to trample each other to exit the courtroom. The third horn which followed triggered mass hysteria, the sounds of screams and explosions blended in the distance. Bright lights pierced through small opening in the door between all the people cramming through it.

Chester indicated that the third horn meant that everyone willing and able should arm themselves and protect the castle. The adventurers readied their weapons and climbed to the roof of the courthouse. From the roof top the adventurers could see the castle, partly ablaze, fireballs raining from the sky from multiple directions. A creature in the sky screeched, shrouded by the smoke clouds bellowing from the city. The streets were filled with men armed with whatever they could find. Some wielded proper weapons while others held farming equipment or simply sticks and stones. A feeble old man stood on the side of the march and yelled “Ragtha’ar akum tarut acktha’ir” to which the crowd yelled back “Akum tarut acktha’ir, akum tarut ishta’ir!” The echoing voices of the men rumbled through the streets and not even the deafening screeches of the flying beast were a match for the thunderous war march of the Ragtha’ar.

Once the adventurers made it to the castle they saw the carnage that laid before them. The castle doors were falling off of its hinges and the air was filled with the stench of death from the mutilated bodies of royal guards scattered throughout the entrance. A group of half-orcs ran from within the fuming castle and attacked the adventurers but were quickly vanquished by swift strikes from the adventurers. Rhogar used his military expertise to move his comrades in advantageous positions while Oneshoe turned into a bear to grapple with the beast. Tehpot used his magic to launch a steady stream of attacks to whittle away at the foe meanwhile Morday tried to find his groove in battle with his new mates. Jarijah was late to the rumble after having followed behind on his way from the courthouse but arrived just in time to launch flames as was customary for him.

One of the half-orcs that hadn’t been incinerated to ash or split in half begged for death in agony, and Rhogar granted him his dying wish with pleasure. The adventurers pushed forward and met with Captain Gerard who had himself killed a horde of half-orcs in the courtyard. Captain Gerard had just instructed the adventurers to find the king in his chambers when a beast unlike anything the adventurers had ever seen jumped from the roof into the courtyard. It’s body completely mutilated with bloody pikes piercing its flesh and protruding outward as armor. Horns that curled into a spiral erupted from its skull and teeth sharp and jagged, sticking through its own bloody lips. It wielded an enormous axe forged completely of metal, with an edge on both sides that ran down the handle. The fiend opened its mouth and began to speak in a deep and gargled speech: “Lat Durub Vadokan!” Oneshoe, who was still in bear form from before, understood the black speech but could not articulate to his comrades what he had learned, that the king had been slain.

Alongside Captain Gerard the adventurers unleashed an unmerciful barrage of attacks on the fiend and sent him back to whatever demon or devil conjured such a monstrosity but not before it dealt a fatal blow on Captain Gerard who caught the full force of the beast’s axe across his torso. Tehpot gathered Captain Gerard’s damaged sword and the adventurers pushed further into the castle.  Chester called to the adventurers and they found him clenching the King’s hand and head as he cried out with his last breath, “Please…find my wife and daughter…these fiends…they have them…these Separatists…find Urin in the dungeons.” Those last few words mark the death of Marthros the Benevolent King of Nomastadd and Supreme Chancellor of the Alliance of Eight. “Four horns if the king is dead,” said Chester and as he finished his sentence, a horn reverberated across all of Saarnia, and a quiet stillness filled the air.  Royal guards came into the courtyard and broke down at the sight of their dead king. Their swords clinked on the ground and their helmets did nothing to hide their tears. In their sorrow they collected the king and took him away to his chambers to prepare him for his funeral which according to Chester had to happen the same day the King passed away.

Chester asked the adventurers to return to the castle at dusk for the funeral and with that the adventurers left to fulfill the last dying wish of the King, to find Urin in the dungeons. A servant showed the adventurers where the dungeon entrance was but it was protected but many spells. A darkness spells did not allow any light to penetrate the room. Fortunately, Tehpot remembered that when Captain Gerard wielded his sword against the fiend in the courtyard it shined as bright as the sun and after several clues from Twosky’s book of riddles the adventurers used the sword to illuminate the room and find yet another security measure, a password. For hours the adventurers tried every combination of words, letters and tricks to figure out the password that would lead them to Urin. Oneshoe put together their ideas and when they came together as a team they found the password which lead them into the dungeons.

Urin, although hesitant at first due to his evidently false imprisonment, welcomed the adventurers and told them his side of the story. Urin told them of Corgak, the chief of the half-orcs in the Astendra Plains who is a known member of a group known as the Separatists. The group call themselves the Order of the Labyrinth and they worship a demon god whose name is unholy and forbidden, so much so that not even Urin knows it. Urin explained that the fiend they fought was a tainted orc called a tanarukk. Urin also corroborated the story of the halflings indicating that Corgak is an associate of Zamtaruk. Both Urin and Zamtaruk grew up together in the half-orc tribe but Corgak detested Urin and loved Zamtaruk, so much so that he brutally raped Urin’s mother just to prove a point. Urin challenged Corgak and beat him in hand to hand combat but Corgak did not allow Urin to claim the victory on him. Instead, Corgak commanded his men to beat Urin and banished him from the tribe. Urin found employment in Nomastad but has not forgotten about Corgak and now seeks revenge against him. Urin asked the adventurers to help him on his quest to find Corgak so that he pays for his crimes, and if they agreed he would help them find Zamtaruk and get answers on the whereabouts of the Queen and Princess. The group agreed to help each other and the adventurers gained their first hireling on their quest.

After their meeting with Urin the adventurers made their way back to the castle where a funeral procession had gathered. Thousands of people lined the road and as the procession moved the crowds scattered petals so that no dirt showed through. The royal guards carried the body of the King on a golden platform and down the road the procession moved to the beat of a ceremonial drum. The royal guards placed the body of the King on a marble platform at the foot of the mountain high enough for the masses to witness the theater of death. The vultures from Yliapisto appeared in the sky and dove down onto the platform, pecking at the robes and flesh of the King. Blood covered the altar and when only bones were left a priest set the altar ablaze with a hot blue smokeless fire. “We commend the body and spirit of King Marthros the Benevolent to the Eight, which await him in the afterlife. May he dwell in the presence of Malar and enjoy the fruits of his labor in this plane. Ragtha’ar akum tarut acktha’ir!” to which the crowd yelled back “Akum tarut acktha’ir, akum tarut ishta’ir!”

In its darkest hour, the kingdom now turned to the adventurers for their council and ruling. Even though they did not know the King for very long they knew that he was loved by all and filling his shoes would not be an easy task. With Urin on their side, they hoped to find the Queen and Princess and punish those responsible for the death of the King to put his soul to rest.