Episode 64: The Longest Rest
Having escaped the grounds of Madame Elethi’s Finishing School For Girls unseen, the party decided to hastily leave the area. As they made their way through the 4th Tier, eastwards towards the Grand Stair, they saw a pair of guards racing from the main gate of the school ahead of them to alert the city Watch – apparently evidence of their encounter with the erstwhile Madame Elethi had been discovered. The party did their best to appear nonchalant, and avoided being recognized as the pair passed them a few minutes later, a cohort of watch in tow.
As they descended the Grand Stair the party discussed the consequences of having slain Madame Elethi. Certainly the School proper would be impacted, but Elethi’s criminal enterprise was now without a leader. They knew from what fragments of encoded messages they could read in her ledger that Elethi was heavily connected to powerful Uman citizenry, both respectable and otherwise, and her death might create a power vacuum. The speculated that criminal organizations like Danta Kosht’s gang might be pleased at her demise, but given the party had already angered the mobster, they decided not to volunteer the knowledge of their involvement. Likewise, while clearly operating outside the law, Elethi was well-respected amongst the rich and powerful of the city, and it wasn’t clear killing her would be considered acceptable.
In the end they decided not to return to their home on the 7th, since if anyone did come looking for the party that would be an obvious first place to check. As the sun set and the wintry chill of night came upon them, they headed for the Main Gate, intending to leave the city proper and head for Whisper’s tower to lay low. As they passed through the gate, several of the watch on duty noted their passing with respectful nods. The party’s actions defending the city and the Main Gate itself just two nights ago was fresh in the mind of these guards. One, a human bladesman not yet 20, stopped Magnus. He held the grizzled fighter in obvious awe, and fumbling apologies for introducing explained that he had been present at the encounter with the Alnaar Demon, and he had witnessed Magnus taking control of the great serpent and saving the guards at the gate. He introduced himself as Reva Soonrop, and seemed concerned that the party was leaving the city, worried what might happen if the demons returned and the party was not there to defend it. Magnus attempted to reassure the young man and told him to remain vigilant, before continuing on through the Gate with his companions.
Whisper led her friends out of the city towards the banks of the River Throm, and a small floating footbridge that spanned the quarter-mile wide river. After traveling a mile or so westward, they arrived at Whisper’s tower – an ancient and dilapidated watchtower set against the edges of the Western Expanse. The party immediately made camp. They eschewed a fire, the glow from which might signal their presence in the dark tower. Whisper, Ara, Magnus and Yuna were all beaten and exhausted, but before they could sleep they realized they should take steps to prevent being tracked by magical means. That meant hiding Madame Elethi’s Ledger. Yuna, familiar with Locate Object and similar spells, knew that the pocket dimension of Whisper’s Bag of Hoarding would foil any such tracking. Before they stowed it away, the party took several hours to make a copy of strange book. As they worked by low candlelight, they began to try to solve the various ciphers used therein. They were able to decode a few pages, but the more complicated cipher comprising the bulk of the ledger remained impenetrable. As the clock passed Dark Hour, they finally completed the transcription. Exhausted one and all, they fell instantly to sleep, with Keen standing watch.
Before attempting sleep, Magnus spent a few minutes investigating the small wooden box they had taken from Madame Elethi’s bedchambers. In it he found a delicate wood-and-brass clockwork figurine of a duck, riding a monkey, riding a pig. Using the Identify spell he learned the properties of the curious item before tucking it safely in his pack. Though normally a supernaturally sound sleeper, Magnus found himself restless, his mind fixating on Madame Elethi’s strange, coffin-like four-poster bed filled with fresh, black soil. The urge to return to the Vampire’s lair and try it for himself was nearly overwhelming.
An hour passed before Keen spied movement on the dark open plain outside the tower: a figure was approaching. He roused the party, and as the figure approached Whisper called out to them. It turned out to be Reva Soonrop, the young guard they had spoken to at the Gate a few hours earlier. He was visibly nervous, and entreated Whisper to let him in, claiming he had urgent business with Magnus. From Reva they learned that news of events at Madame Elethi’s had reached Bartok, and less than an hour after they had left the city the watch was ordered to locate and detain the party for questioning on suspicion of crimes against the city, thievery, and murder. Reva had abandoned his post at the Gate to pursue the party and warn them, following them to the tower.
As he related these events, the guardsman realized that he had committed the crime of desertion, and would be jailed if he ever returned to the city. He begged Magnus to let him remain with the party, and offered to be his apprentice, valet, squire, or anything at all. The party considered this, openly debating what to do with the young man. They considered allowing him to remain, though this might be dangerous for him. They considered abandoning him to fate. They considered sending him to Whitebridge, to join the service of Whibraxis, their young copper dragon ally, though this would mean a weeks-long journey high into the mountains in the dead of winter. Ara, the voice of the Fist of the North Wind coming through, suggested just killing Reva outright to cover their tracks, which slightly worried his companions. Whisper wondered whether the young man could be trusted, if he was indeed who and what he seemed to be.
In the end, they decided to convince Reva to don the Hat of True Frog, placed him comfortably in Whisper’s pack, and deal with him later. Before returning to their rest, Yuna and Sirlius examined their companions for signs that they might be suffering the onset of vampirism. Yuna concluded that this was not the case, and that while Ara and Magnus both looked terrible, a good night’s sleep would probably be all that was required to speed their physical recovery. Magnus’s psychological wellbeing was more worrying, however; she decided to check him again in the morning.
The party returned to their rest. For Magnus, however, sleep would not come for hours. It was nearly dawn before he finally closed his eyes, though he seemed discomfited, turning in his sleep and muttering under his breath. Yuna considered using her single Greater Restoration scroll but after another examination of her friend she concluded his physical condition had indeed improved. Instead, she guessed he might be under some sort of curse, and cast Remove Curse on Magnus.
When he finally awoke late in the morning, Magnus was exhausted, but the compulsion to sleep in Madame Elethi’s bed of dirt was now just a disturbing memory. Yuna and Sirlius realized that having struck the death blow that destroyed Madame Elethi, Magnus had unwittingly become the target of the vampire’s death curse. They were relieved for their friend, but Magnus seemed troubled, staring at his strange, undead arm and reflecting on the odd circumstances of his mortality.
The party used Ara’s enchanted staff to contact Sabetha, and notify her that she could come retrieve Madame Elethi’s ledger, thus completing their deal and repaying her for help breaking into the Pashtum Bank some weeks earlier. Aleh Xa, the spirit of Ara’s ancestor inhabiting the staff, was unusually hostile to Ara, questioning his “loyalty to the mission” and forcefully demanding he dedicate himself to recovering the remaining three Fists of the Akiir. As Ara argued with his staff, Sabetha instead used her own magic to reply, and they gave her their location.
Some time later, the thin, distant sun rose higher in the winter sky, Whisper spied the lithe, graceful figure of Sabetha moving quickly across the open ground towards the tower.
Cheese it Rating: Effective!
Escort Mission: Deferred
Party Legal Status: Questionable
RP Rating: Awesome!