Flames and Truth
We last left our party standing on the stairs with Halia setting fire to the entire upper story of the Miner’s Exchange with an errant fireball. One lonely bandit escaped the flames and had leapt out of a window. Before anyone could leap into action, I made Aurelia do a perception roll, which she promptly failed. She felt suddenly revitalised and energetic, without a clue as to why.
*Remember the blood on the Crescent Claw from the earlier battle. The blade was now clean again without any trace of the blood left. Aurelia regained 12 hp. *
The halflings were determined not to let the bandit get away and ran off after them leaping through the window. One thing Wendel forgot though, he was still under the effects of alcohol and therefore at disadvantage on skill checks, promptly tripping on the windowsill tumbling in the dark. However, he did remember that he had slowfall and although landing hard, he sustained no damage. Merric landed beside Wendel without issue.
Asterin and Aurelia ran into Halia’s room and found her leaning heavily against a wall, her nightgown covered in blood. A dead guard at her feet.
“Hello ladies,” she weakly replied, “I appear to have set my business on fire.” With few spells left, the two players grabbed Halia under each arm. Realising that the stairwell was not an option with Halia’s current state they dragged her into the next room which happened to be her bedroom.
A quick inspection revealed the only possible escape was the large glass window, which also happened to be locked. Leaving Asterin to hold Halia, Aurelia stepped forward and with a quick Eldritch Blast blew the window out. Racing over to the bed she grabbed as many of the large sheets as possible and threw the out the window to serve as a soft landing upon the streets below.
*Eldritch Blast is an extremely useful cantrip, whether its blasting a creature or opening window. *
Holding Halia to her chest, Aurelia fell backwards out the window hoping to cushion the fall for Halia. Fortunately, the dice were in her favour and she landed comfortably on the thick cushions and furs below. Asterin immediately jumped down after her without incident. Townsfolk, having been alerted by Halia’s handmaiden, Anabel, ran over to assist them. Aurelia quickly gave them instruction to help extinguish the blaze.
Realising that the worst was probably over, Asterin used up her last spell slot to heal Halia preventing her from bleeding out. With some strength restored, Halia immediately enquired about the status of the safe. Not having an answer, Asterin quickly raced in to determine its state and reported back that it was safe and secure considering the building was on fire.
*Yes, your safe is perfectly fine sitting in a ranging inferno. *
Halia didn’t seemed too concerned and mumbled something about it having protections against certain elements. She looked over her building now inflames and sneered angrily, “That bastard is going to pay!”
Asterin presses Halia for who does she mean, having been rattled by the night’s events Halia lets slip that she is referring to Griska.
Meanwhile, the halflings had found themselves at the back of the Miner’s Exchange with three horses securely tied up outside the building. Merric and Wendel could hear the galloping of two riders as the bandits tried to escape towards the west. Merric threw a javelin at the retreating figures but missed and the two quickly escaped into the night.
*I was kinda hoping that he hit one of them, just to see how everything would play out, but unfortunately he literally couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with that roll. *
Concerned for the remaining horses’ proximity to the burning building, Wendel removed their tethers and noticed the saddle bags. With Merric’s help they escorted them to the front of the building. Seeing the girls surrounded by the townsfolk and a bucket line beginning to form, they secure the horses away from the fire and joined in to help extinguish the flames.
Aurelia by now has noticed the sudden arrival of the halflings on horses and begins investigating the saddlebags for some clues. Apart from a few rations and some safe cracking tools there did not appear to be anything indicating the bandit’s identity. The townsfolk continued to work diligently on extinguishing the flames and were successful in keeping the fire contained to the upstairs only.
Sildar finally arrived with backup and immediately went over to see Halia, but Asterin stood to meet him first. Outside of Halia’s earshot Asterin informs him about the night’s events and that Halia suspected Griska’s involvement in the attack. Sildar immediately took charge and had his guards escort Halia away informing her that he intended to question her regarding the incident.
Aurelia joins Asterin and Sildar enquiring about the fires in the northern side of town. The source of the northern fire was the smugglers den below the farmer’s warehouse where Sildar had investigated several dead Redbrands a week earlier.
*Well that should certainly ring a few bells. *
Rolling up his sleeves Sildar joined the bucket line and within a few hours the fire was extinguished. It was during this time that Merric and Wendel noticed that the flames did not appear to have any effect on the structural beams, columns, or rafters. They remained completely intact. Retracing their steps upstairs they investigate the remaining rooms and discover an armoury of sorts, the contents of which were thoroughly damaged by the fire.
Judging by the size of the room and the number of melted weaponry Halia seemed to have had a large stockpile, enough to equip a sizeable force far more than would be required to guard the Miner’s Exchange. Climbing back down they finally wander back to the inn to have a rest back at the inn. Sildar requested that they come see him once they had chance to recoup.
Merric noticed something smeared on the horses they had just procured. Black pitch had been used to cover several white spots of hair on the horses hides. He recalled that it was a common practice with vagabonds and drug runners to make lighter coloured horses harder to see at night.
*Merric’s backstory is quite useful to hint at the criminal activity, which is ongoing in the area, it remains to see how Merric’s story unfolds. *
Having a nice long rest, the party stayed asleep and didn’t wake up until 2pm later that day. Wendel had finally recovered from his night of hard drinking, and awoke to Trilena, the innkeeper’s wife, staring at him with daggers in her eyes as he stumbled down the stairs.
“Please tell me you didn’t sleep in my good linen with those soot covered clothes?” she exclaimed. Poor Wendel had been too drunk to realise not to put on clean clothes prior to sleep. He stammered out an apology, her only reply was a deep sigh as she made her way upstairs.
The inn was full, the room a buzz with gossip and stories of what had occurred throughout the night. Having heard about the groups’ involvement with the Miner’s Exchange, Tolben refused to accept payment and let them eat for free.
Sitting down for a late lunch, Aurelia spied the bard Falros lightly strumming his lute, attempting to conceal his exhaustion. Traces of soot and ash could be seen in his fair hair. Aurelia smiled to herself. Merric slipped out of the inn, he was suspicious of the horses and wanted to investigate them further in the daylight.
*Usually, I do not allow two players redoing the same checks, particularly when they know that the earlier player rolled low. But I allowed it this time as Merric hadn’t seen Aurelia inspect the horses nor had Aurelia advised them of her earlier findings. Merric was already suspicious of the horses regarding the paint. *
A successful investigation of the saddlebags revealed to Merric a hidden compartment at the base of one of the bags. Inside he found several wooden poker chips painted with the initials ‘MC’ on the front. Merric instantly recognised them and rejoined the party informing them of his find. Furthermore, he revealed that his previous employer MacGregor ran a gambling house using these chips to identify his less scrupulous employees.
Refreshed and having eaten the party made to leave the inn, as they left, Wendel attempted to leave 5gp for troubling Trilena with the soiled bedsheets, but she refused simply saying not to trouble himself and it had been a busy night for them all. Tolben on the other hand happily accepted the gold whilst his wife wasn’t looking.
Aurelia could not resist and teases Falros with a suggestion with one of her spells, completely taking him by surprise and making him lose his composure. Aurelia smiled as he looked over, Falros smiled suggestively back. The party left the inn and headed over to see Sildar.
*Poor Falros, he hadn’t even gone to sleep yet having assisted with combating the northern fire. Aurelia is a strong woman, it will be interesting to see how this plays out. *
Upon arrival the party could overhear a heated argument between Sildar and Harbin, the old townsmaster. From some of the words exchanged it appeared as though Sildar was unravelling the power dynamic in the town between Griska and Halia, with Harbin assuring that everything had been fine “until you guys all showed up.”
Sildar stormed out of the room muttering about “backwater town politics,” and invites the party into his office adjacent to Harbin’s. It was quite clear that Sildar hadn’t received any sleep yet and still had soot stains on his clothing. Once in his office Asterin quickly informs Sildar that both Griska and Halia had been trying to locate the deed to Tresendar Manor, both thinking each other had it.
Sildar thought that this was incredibly strange as typically the stewards of Neverwinter should be in possession of the deed and does not understand how it could possibly be in town. Furthermore, it would need to be signed and ratified by the Lords of Neverwinter. A conclusion formed in his mind and his face grew angry.
*Sildar had been in the dark for some time and had been having to deal with violent outcomes because of the Tresendar Deed being in town. With the rediscovery of Wave Echo Cave, this deed would be extremely valuable. *
Sildar immediately excused himself, left the office and pushed his way into Harbin’s office slamming the door behind him. The party could clearly hear Sildar venting his anger at Harbin who had gone incredibly quiet, the mention of the deed could be clearly made out between the walls. Sildar finished his torrent with calling Harbin a halfwit and stormed out of Harbin’s room to re-join the party.
Sildar informed the party that the idiotic townmaster had somehow retained the deed and word had gotten out. Harbin had been using it as a bargaining chip to keep people in line, baiting people into thinking he had been forced to hand it over to the other person. He had told both Halia and Griska that the other had it in their possession.
The deed had value and would be recognised by the Lords of Neverwinter granting the holder custodian rights over the entire town and lands beyond. Completely unprompted, Aurelia proceeded to let the cat out of the bag and informed Sildar about the party’s involvement with the deed.
*Even I was a bit taken back by Aurelia sudden exposure of information. Always in the past, the party has been quiet about their involvement in the hostilities. Where do we go from here? *
Asterin becomes incredibly nervous at all the implications. She suddenly realises that the party is the cause for the recent violence. By stealing the deed from the smuggler’s den, Griska had blamed Halia and had reacted accordingly. Immediately stopping Aurelia before she could implicate the group further, Asterin begs Sildar for a private word with her party.
I chose to end the session with a stern looking Sildar glaring dubiously at the party… Even I don’t know what’s going to happen next time.