- As we climbed down the ladder, we found ourselves in a small corridor within a damp, rough-hewn rock hall. As the group finished lowering themselves down, Adanel and Kethlan turned the corner leading down the hallway. As they did so, they were assaulted by a hail of arrows. It seemed that Smudge and his comrades hadn’t gone far, after all. I ran to impart a healing blessing on Kethlan, who was struck and appeared feint. As Adanel ran in, she was struck from behind, a horrible blow. However, she was able to continue, and moved forward to fight other assailants. The rest of us joined in the fight. Four archers had positioned themselves to fire down the hall, while some other warriors had positioned themselves in the left portion of the room. Adanel struck down some fool who attempted to leap off a table and attack her. As she did so, I imparted a blessing upon her as well. She and I then rushed to combat the archers. The warriors heaved chairs as if they were involved in some bar brawl. It was a fierce fight, but we soon gained the upper hand. Smudge, seeing that he was losing the battle, grabbed a whip and used it to pull Kethlan to the floor. Smudge drew his dagger, and shouted for us to stop the fight, or he would kill Kethlan. I knew he would try and use Kethlan as a hostage to make his escape, so I attempted to use divine power to hold him in place. Unfortunately, he was able to resist, and tried to make good on his threat of death of Kethlan. The elf was able to resist him, however, and Smudge ran for the ladder, barreling over Zef and Moridin in the attempt. We attempted to pursue him, but he shut the secret door, which prohibited us from catching up to him. One of his comrades, however, wasn’t so lucky. We questioned him at length, finally agreeing to allow him to live in exchange for information. It turned out that Smudge and his band were part of the Thieves’ Guild, and that the books had gone to someone named Hergis. This particular prisoner wasn’t even Minrothadian, or a member of the Guilds! After questioning him, Zef picked a large chest in the room. Opening the chest, we found it was empty. I climbed in to look at the bottom of it, believing that it might be false. Looking at it, we thought that there might be something under it. Zef examined the lock once more, and determined that the mechanism could be used to open something else in the chest. We shut the chest lid, he rotated the lock, and then the front of the chest rose off of the floor, revealing a narrow tunnel. Our prisoner revealed to us that a trap was there, and so we stuck a body down the tunnel to spring it. Once sprung, we went down the shaft into another room. There, in the far wall, a large iron vault was set. Zef nimbly provided access to it for us. We open the vault door, and discovered our possessions….minus Moridin’s books and about 300 gold pieces. The disappointment was clearly visible on his face. In the room, we also discovered a large crevice, which dropped down about 30 feet to what appeared to be ocean water. We lowered Zef down to the water, and he swam down. When he came back, he indicated that it led out to the grotto. We were concerned about getting our belongings out, and who might be outside when we got there, so we lowered ourselves and the remainder of our possessions into the water. The heavier possessions were left on the sea floor, to be retrieved later. We made it back to the Shipyard, and quickly consulted with Skarrett. Still two weeks after this one to complete the ship. We stepped back momentarily to discuss the situation. Moridin still wanted to pursue the books, as I knew he would. Zef and I remained quiet, while Kethlan and Adanel asked Moridin to explain what value these books had. Valid questions, all. I found Moridin’s answers to be evasive, and unsatisfying for the two. Zef also mentioned that there might be another job available, something regarding a strike against the Barony. That definitely piqued my interest, but I knew other decisions had to be made first. In the end, Zef and Adanel went to see if they could get more information on the books, while Kethlan and I went to purchase provisions for the ship. While we did that, Moridin went to retrieve our possessions from the grotto floor. When we all returned back to the shipyard, Zef and Adanel believed the books were headed toward Fabia, a port of the Emirates, aboard a two-masted Harbortown Trader. Everyone agreed, albeit less cheerfully, that we would pursue the books. We had some time to pass, as Starrett was finishing certain aspects of the ship. The sea doors would be tarred over, but we would have to leave without rigging or ballistas. We decided to follow up on Zef’s lead regarding the Barony. We made our way to the dock where a ship was tied. Zef indicated that we were to meet our contact here. We boarded the ship, and then were directed below by some guards. When we entered the captain’s quarters, we were surprised to see many angry Halflings, pointing weapons at us. A prominent looking, elder Halfing, sitting at a table, began speaking to us. His name was Biltuck Twainstitch, and he began detailing their grievances against us. They were angry that we had assisted in the escape of Elgin Wefyr, a known criminal. Additionally, in the escape, that one of their Halfling comrades perished. Twainstitch demanded that we either; pay 1000 gold and owe them a favor. Pay them nothing and owe them two favors. While Twainstitch spoke, I was angry toward Zef for misleading us this way. We reluctantly agreed to owe them two favors. What choice did we have! I fumed, wondering internally who else we would become errand boys for during our travels here. We were dismissed, and Zef was told to stay behind. We waited on deck for Zef to return. When he did, he had a sack full of what appeared to be money. Had he just been rewarded for bringing us to the Halflings? I asked him about the sack. He said it was none of my businesses. We walked the gangplank down to the pier. I asked him about the sack, and why he betrayed us. He only responded that it was none of my business. I grew angrier and angrier. Finally, I shoved him. Kethlan stepped in, and admonished us not to fight. I reluctantly walked away. As we returned to the shipyard, we encountered four people I immediately recognized to be countrymen of mine. They greeted me and explained that they were four that we helped rescue from the Barony Slaver. Their names were: Ilya, Stephan, Yuris and Fyodor. They were fishermen in Karameikos, and wanted to know if we had need of sailors. After checking with the others, I told them we would hire them on. It’s good that we can have more crew on board to properly sail the vessel. Skarrett reckons that we’ll be able to achieve about 90% of the boat’s full speed now. While I wish that we could remain and finish the repairs, I believe it will benefit us to sail after the books.
- We finally were ready to set sail, and so we did. On the journey, which lasted nine days, I took the time to examine the mace once again. I had used it in combat, and yet could not discern any great power or benefits about it. Whatever power it holds eludes me. I must pray more regarding this matter, to seek intervention and knowledge. I also find it difficult to trust Zef, although my anger has abated somewhat after some reflection on his position. When we finally arrived, we were met by the local Guilds Port agent, Rufill Lejeor. We began to try and determine which ship could have been the one with the books. Based on our discussions, there were three: The Bellweather, the Green Lemon, and the Ketterswept. We moved into the Foreign Quarter portion of town to try and get more information. Zef did some work in the bars, to no avail. As we left a tavern, we ran into a short, plump, friendly-looking man with a bushy black beard. He greeted us, an indicated that his name was Sal Khalid, an Abashanian merchant. He invited us, rather unexpectedly, to follow him home for a meal. His home was quite nice, as he appeared to do well in his chosen profession. A servant brought coffee, which we enjoyed while exchanged pleasantries. Moridin began to ask other questions, but was rebuffed by Khalid. Apparently, the drinking of the “Water” is somehow ritualistic. It appears to be customary not to speak of business until after the coffee is finished. As we sat there, it became more apparent to me how foreign their customs were to us, and how strange we must seem. I quietly prayed that we would not have to remain long. Occasionally, Khalid would say something to us and then appear disappointed if we did not reply in an expected manner. Again, I quietly prayed we would not have to remain in this country for long. It was nice to get to know Khalid, and to enjoy his hospitality, but we eventually had to leave. As we did, we returned to the dock to have a look at the ships. We first came to the Bellweather. We were allowed to board and to talk to her Captain, Bell Sylcloth. Moridin asked her a few questions about cargo and passengers. When we asked to know what was going on, Moridin again became evasive and unconvincing. She did not say much more, except to essentially dismiss us from her ship. We did some more investigation at the dock, but we quickly realized that none of the ships we examined were the ones we were looking for. We decided to return to the Bellweather to see if Captain Sylcloth could be of any further assistance. This time, I spoke to her regarding the books. I told her that they possessed alchemic knowledge, and hence were of great import to Guild Corser. She told us that she thought that she had seen some crates loaded onto a caravan that matched the description. This caravan was run by a man named Al’Aramy, and had apparently left for Abbashan the day before. When we went to visit Al’Aramy, we found out that there were no more caravans leaving for a while. Desperate, we sought out Sal Khlaid to assist us. He agreed to make inquiries into a caravan for us. With Halav’s blessing, we may catch up yet.
- We’re preparing to leave for Abbashan. Khalid prepared the caravan for us, at the cost of 480 gold pieces. Kethlan has purchased a scroll with certain phrase information. I am most hesitant about making this journey. Most locals regard us with disdain. I can’t imagine that the people of the land’s interior will find us any more appealing. I pray that Halav will lead us from this place…successfully.