In the Cities of the Dead

Kicking It Off

As the game begins, most of the PCs are in the marketplace in the town of Westrun, pursuing their individual agendas. Anakat Stormbringer is accompanying the trade delegation from the town of Woodhill, and their river-barge – laden with steelsilk, salt, and other trade goods – is approaching Westrun.

Suddenly, from the edge of a cornfield not far from the riverbank, two glowing missiles in the form of mailed fists shoot out across the water, and send the barge’s pilot and one of the other sailors flying into the river. As an alarm rings out from the watch atop the walls of Westrun (which is on a hill overlooking the river), Anakat jumps into the river and swims toward the source of the attack.

A small force of goblins emerges from the freshly harvested corn-rows: a pair of archers, swarms of foot-soldiers, and a leader-type with a battleaxe. With the Westrun militia at their heels, the rest of the PCs charge down the hill to join the fight.

Combat ensues. With Anakat absorbing the brunt of the goblins’ attacks (and almost getting dropped), the party kills four of the goblins and causes the rest to flee—with Rook pursuing the leader long enough to slay him, and Corwin learning the disadvantages of swimming in chainmail.

After some healing and congratulations all around, the party disperses again.

Corwin has been trying for a long time to find out the location of the Shrine of Serrach the Conqueror, a place holy to worshipers of Erathis that legend says will confer great favor on the faithful who visit it. One of the books he buys in the marketplace tells him that it is near the city of Tertonae, a city of demon-worshipers during whose conquest Serrach finally fell. From knowledge he gleanes from other works, Corwin believes the location is about 3 days to the northwest, near a rock formation called “the stone bull.”

Rook is currently on a mission to find a specific individual, located in “the ancient city of the Tieflings, called Terkhon.” He is instructed to “seek out a learned man” to help him find it. After making inquiries, Rook is directed to the temple of Erathis, where he finds Corwin. Already having met, Rook asks Corwin for assistance, and they quickly determine that the Empire gave the name Tertonae to Terkhon after they conquered it—the two men are both looking for the same place.

Anakat is also on a mission. Back in Woodhill, shortly before the traders began their trip downriver to Westrun, two men guarding the town’s storehouse of steelsilk were murdered and a portion of the steelsilk was stolen. The fletching of the arrows that slew the guards marked them as coming from the Northfork metro area. Anakat is here to seek out and slay the murderer and, if possible, recover the goods. While she is asking around about whether anyone who wasn’t from Woodhill has been seen selling steelsilk, Sam the Bard – who had joined the fight at the river earlier – sidles up with some information. It seems that Sam has a cousin, Tim the Ranger, who lives in Northfork. Tim heard that a half-orc hunter named Lazar (who lives at the edge of the woods east of Northfork) was seen burying sacks of something silvery behind his cabin not long ago. Sam the Bard recommends that Anakat go and see Tim, and offers to send word to Tim that he should help her out.

On or about this time, the group (except for Dox the changeling, who is both Sam the Bard and Tim the Ranger) make an “I’ll help you with your thing if you help me with mine” compact. They decide to go to Northfork first and try to find Lazar the hunter, since Northfork is on the way to Tertonae. Before leaving, Corwin visits the mayor, Denylia Fortunata, explaining the group’s mission, and asks for help. She provides them with rations and an Everburning Torch.

Upon reaching Northfork, the group contacts Tim the Ranger (easily identified by the red bandana he always wears), who is very helpful. Tim knows Lazar, and knows where he lives, so he guides the group to the hunter’s cabin. Along the way, Tim lets the group know that Lazar is a deadly bowman, and is always accompanied by his two vicious hunting drakes (raptor lizards about the size of a mastiff).

They arrive at Lazar’s place to find it unoccupied. A quick tour of the grounds reveal a large main cabin, a smaller structure with a door to the north, and an empty single-stall stable to the south. Upon finding a back door to the cabin, Tim moves to try the door, and narrowly escapes falling into the pit in front of it. Breaking into the front door, the group examines the cabin but finds little of interest. The hearth is apparently made from stones that come from a building, most likely from Imperial times, but no one finds that terribly exciting.

Searching the ground behind the cabin, the group locates the concealed burial site, and—realizing that no one has brought a shovel – quickly digs it out using Thorgrim the wizard’s Thunderwave. There they find the steelsilk . . . as well as a sack of quicksilver ant eggs. After some lengthy ruminations over the ethics involved, they smash the eggs.

Next week, the group goes in pursuit of Lazar.

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