Mystara Campaign: The Journey...

Decisions
A Clutch of Dilemmas

Kobold cave near Armstead (2 Fyrmont 997 AC)

The Confession from Adelmar had taken an interesting turn.
The implication of Umbarth House, one of the great Merchant Houses of Darokin really complicated matters. It was well known by all within the Company how Janice would vote on the matter. There was no love loss between Janice and her previous employer.

Aidan licked his lips. All this talking and sitting around in a hot stuffy cave made him thirsty, problem was his wineskin was empty. The Preacher, out of precaution, had forbidden them all to leave the cave until they had ironed out some sort of plan. How he envied Mills back at the village. “What are we to do with Adelmar now?” asked the irritated halfling. “And despite him being somewhat of a Glantrian-wizard he doesn’t look like he possesses the stomach for violence, much less killing.” .

“And we cannot ignore this either,” Montano added, waving the Letter from Jarvis in his hand before placing it down on the table along with Aldemar’s other items; a coin pouch, thieving tools, a short-sword, a vial of clear liquid and an arcane-scripted gold ring.

“No, we certainly cannot. Well,” said Gotryk taking a moment to pause skeptically, “we have to assume Millington has rescued Janice and Chord and that they will be alright. We on the other hand have some decisions to make. Any ideas, how are we going to play this out?”

The three searched each other for answers.

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Letters from Industrious Hands
Carnival (Af)Fair

House of the Industrious Hands (16 Felmont 997 AC)

Mother Amelia pressed firmly, sealing the final letter with The Church’s seal. “Liam!” she called out. Turning her eyes downwards, she observed as she opened and closed her hand in an attempt to relieve the pain. The length of the letters had been longer than she had originally planned but it was necessary given the gravitas of the topic.

“Mother Amelia, you called,” stated the tall young man standing in her doorway. He bowed his head deeply as a sign of respect letting his long chestnut-coloured locks fall. The old cleric smiled as his head lifted and he was forced to wipe away his hair from his face.
In the many years she had served in Nemiston, Liam was by far her favourite acolyte to have graced the Church of the Industrious Hands. Soft-spoken, obedient, intelligent and pleasing on the eyes, she had developed high hopes for him within the religious order.

“Yes Liam, I did. Pack some belongings, you will be going on a little excursion.”

“Excursion Mother?” Liam asked, the frown on his forehead betraying his confusion.

Handing him four sealed letters along with a small leather pouch she explained, “Take this, use the money to hire yourself a fine horse, be sure. I want you to travel to Dolos.” Liam took the coin pouch and letters.
“Deliver the letters to the head of the temples there. Personally,” she stressed the last part, “there is no room for error.”

“Mother Amelia, I believe there are only three Temples in Dolos – yet you have given me four letters.” said Liam.

She nodded…

After Liam had left, Mother Amelia sat in her chair rubbing her writing hand thinking back on her conversation with Content Not Found: montano. It was a pity the bard was not a man of the cloth, he would have given excellent sermons.

All of her sudden she broke her reverie with the sound of her laughter as she remembered one of The Church’s most popular tenets. She continued to laugh, while massaging her hand.

“Idle hands are the devil’s workshop”

Somewhere in Selenica (19 Felmont 997 AC)

Gotryk marvelled at the detail of the letter unable to suppress a smile. In just a short few days Janice had come to know everything about Armstead; Everyone and everything from the village’s main trade, its merchant routes, its finest and worst accommodation it had to offer, the local cuisine, local gossip and even archaic lore, religious or otherwise.
His amusement on her abilities of information gathering were interrupted by the entrance of Content Not Found: montano.

“I take it, by the silly look on the your face that we’ve received word from Janice?” asked the bard, motioning towards the letter.

“Yes,” replied Gotryk rather absentmindedly, still wearing the bemused look.

“So, we going or not?” Montano queried while pulling up a chair to sit next to him.

Gotryk merely nodded.

“Good, because our walking pillar of armour has already started to pass comments about the intellect of the city and its people.”

Gotryk laughed.

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The Ana Radeeya Restaurant
Selenican Vendetta

The Ylari (16 Felmont 997 AC)

Sitting deep in thought, on a comfortable mattress amidst a sea of various sized and coloured pillows, in his personal private booth of his favourite Selenican Restaurant, Ibrahim Al-Azrad pulled methodically on his moustache as if in an attempt to straighten it. He was more than a little annoyed. He had paid a sizeable sum to have the adventuring guild hired by the Lucius brought before him. Someone would have to pay for this failure.

He looked to his right and admired the sleeping form of Afifah, a local dancer of the establishment. Distracted with the view, he momentarily forgot his annoyance as his fat hairy hand pushed aside the girl’s dancing cloth, revealing her bare ass-cheek underneath. Grabbing hold of it, he gave it a slight squeeze – the girl half-moaned in her sleep. Undeterred by her discomfort and somewhat inspired, his swarthy hand began to explore her body.

His appreciation was cut short, by the sudden intrusion of his two guards escorting a short man, of Ylari origin, into the room. The man, dressed in travel gear, was promptly shoved to stand in front of him.

“Nazeer,” said Ibrahim annunciating the little man’s name slowly, “it appears your magic, which was paid for upfront, has failed. Instead of entertaining three new guests as had I expected, I found myself entertaining one only. That hardly seems fair, don’t you think?”

Nazeer was very much aware of what had transpired that night.“I…Lord Ibrahim, let me make it up to you. Allow me to reimburse you the monies,” he pleaded, shifting uncomfortably.

“But Nazeer, I do not want your monies,” said Ibrahim while shaking his head. “I want what I had asked for.”

“Of course my lord, let me just prepare my spells and…” replied Nazeer, motioning to leave, but the guards quickly blocked his escape.

“There is no time for that Nazeer,” interjected Ibrahim, his tone indicative of the seriousness of the situation. “Everything is a mess. The remaining two will now be on their guard, city officials will mostly likely be involved and worst of all the Lucius will get to hear about it…I’m not happy Nazeer. I was promised three guests which I did not receive. And here you are, in the middle of the night, dressed as if you were leaving the city.”

“But I –“ Nazeer’s voice began to break.

“No buts. You are not a man of your word Nazeer. Do you know what I do to men who break their word to me?” Ibrahim’s voice darkened. The girl began to stir. Ibrahim nodded to the guards and they immediately began to move towards the little man.

Without warning, Nazeer moved forward away from the approaching guards exclaiming “Back! By Al-Kalim, get back or I kill him,” with his one hand outstretched pointing towards Ibrahim while his other, held up in a defensive position. The guards stopped mid-stride, unsure what to do. By this stage Afifah had awoken and after quickly assessing the situation had pulled herself into a protective ball in the corner of the private room.

“Nazeer,” said a rather amused Ibrahim, waiving the guards to hang back while he slowly rose to his feet, “your magic failed you once tonight, you sure you want to trust on it a second time?”

“Stay down, I’m warning you,” threatened a rather nervous Nazeer.

As Ibrahim stood, towering over the little wizard he declared rather ominously, “Nazeer, you have made enough mistakes for one night. It is time to stop.” He took a step forward.

Without warning several glowing bolts escaped from the wizard’s outstretched hand all flying in the direction of the obese merchant. At this point Afifah screamed in alarm. Intuitively Ibrahim made a quick arcane gesture and the glowing bolts stopped inches away from his body, as if they collided with an unseen barrier, before blinking out.

Ibrahim then lunged to grab the wizard, who in turn failed to evade the large man’s grasp, as one of his hands hands found its way around the little man’s neck threatening to strangle him.
The wizard instinctively reacted using one hand to fight his way free, rather miserably, while the other reached into his pocket to pull out a stoppered vial of murky-green liquid.

“Ustaaz!” cried out one of the guards as a warning who had noticed the vial. The attempt to smash the vial on the Al-Azrad merchant was foiled as Ibrahim’s hand closed around the wizard’s wrist and instead was forcefully swung back breaking the vial on Nazeer’s face.

Almost immediately the murky-green liquid began eating at the flesh. Nazeer cried out from the pain while the curled-up dancer screamed from the unravelling horror. Upon realisation of the liquid’s nature, Ibrahim pushed Nazeer away from him. The push dropping the wizard to the floor.

“Shut her up,” ordered Ibrahim while he watched the wizard deform before his eyes; hands melting away as they attempted to protect the decaying face.
Well this evening had gone terribly wrong, Ibrahim thought to himself.

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That Night in Nemiston
Carnival (Af)Fair

The House of the Industrious Hands (13 Felmont 997 AC)

Mother Amelia sat patiently as Captain Eldmire’s men searched the House of the Industrious Hands. She had taken a much needed rest, as her legs were tired from the day’s activities. She was getting old, she thought. “So, what makes you think he is here Captain?”

“We, got an anonymous tip saying he, the elf, was hiding out here,” replied a rather uncomfortable Eldmire. He liked the priestess, she was good for this town and he hated doing this – but what was he supposed to do? Ignore the message?

“Anonymous, you say” she muttered to herself more so than actually asking.

“Yes I’m afraid. One of my men -” Captain Eldmire started to explain but was cut short with a hand-wave by Mother Amelia indicating her disinterest in the details.

“May I get you some tea, coffee – something else?” asked the elderly priestess warmly.

“-Er no. This shouldn’t take long.” Why was she being so nice thought the Captain. “I apologise for the inconvenience we’ve caused Mother Amelia.”

“No harm. You are just doing your job.” They would have left the town by now. Fortunate that they were here when they were – otherwise things could have gone really badly for everyone concerned.

“So, Andreas?” queried the now fidgety Captain

The militia man, returning along with two of his colleagues just shook his head despondently. Sighing, Eldmire turned to the Priestess, “I believe we have been misinformed or purposefully sent on a wild hunt. Either way I offer you our sincere apologies for disturbing you so late. If there is anything we can do?”

“No need to apologise Captain. You and I are old friends and as for what you can do – you and the boys,” she said turning to his men with a slight grin, “Well, I expect to see all of you in church this week.”


The Shady Dragon Inn (13 Felmont 997AC)

Janice couldn’t believe what had transpired within the last few hours. She was a little annoyed with Cord for not waking her up sooner. “Provisions, water…?”

“All packed on the horses,” Cord replied. He didn’t like it when Janice was upset with him.

If only Cord had woken her up. She thought back on the day’s events, earlier in the afternoon, in particular her conversation with the hostess of the Black Diamond Tavern.

“Twitchy. It’s what they call him.”

Janice ignored the comment, “You sure, it was the short man with the black hair who set it all up.”

“Yes, as sure as I’m sitting here" nodded the hostess. “I heard he came by earlier and made the arrangements, gave them a description of Twitchy, said they could find him at the carnival. He told them he would personally be settling Twitchy’s tab, practically told them to cheat in the game.”

“That doesn’t make any sense. Why would he do that?” asked a confused Janice.

“No idea Red. Maybe he gets a kick out of spending money. Don’t really care. So how much daro you think that is worth?"

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Distractions

The Guild’s Hall in Akorros (20 Klarmont 997 AC)

“You know you have to go with them?” her question sounding more like a statement, while pouring him a drink.

Grabbing hold of the glass, Gotryk slowly nodded his head.

Placing the bottle on the table and stoppering it, she looked up at him “I know you worry, but things will be fine. I have made arrangements to arrive there earlier, set the others up and get the usual info like we planned. Content Not Found: montano is more than capable of handling this. You sure you don’t want me to join you thereafter?"

Tilting his head back he finished the drink, before replying, “No. They are already thin on the ground as it is and given what we have heard about the Woodchuck Boys they might need an extra pair of eyes.” His hand reached out to rest on hers, but she delicately slipped hers away.

“They’re not happy about this, the group separating,” she carried on as if nothing had happened. “You need to tell them –“

“Not now,” he cut her short, a little too sharply. The cleric mentally chastised himself.

“When? It is best they hear it from you.” She moved to take the bottle, but his right hand quickly closed around it keeping it firmly on the table. She lets go of it reluctantly.

“After," he replied, pulling the cork out. “Best not to distract them.”

“Yes, we wouldn’t want anyone distracted…”

Her footsteps drowned out by the sound of an emptying bottle.

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Separated

The Guild’s Hall in Akorros (19 Klarmont 997 AC)

Putting down the pencil, Janice looked up the junior and answered “No, no, no…you’re misunderstanding boy. You have taken on two work assignments at the same time with each job being elsewhere, hence the Company needing to split to undertake both jobs.”

“What? But we swore that would never happen again. The Company charter strictly forb-” exclaimed Cord, while looking around for affirmation and finding none.

“It is nothing like that," interjected Content Not Found: montano as he put out the cigarette. “This is guaranteed. More money, more exposure, more networking. Both assignments have the potential to reward the Company with a healthy and steady stream of income. A golden opportunity, literally. Success could mean the Company would need to expand and perhaps let go of its smaller contracts. I know many of us are tired of the constant copper runs.”

“I still don’t like it; splitting up.” Cord continued – raising his hands and shaking his head somewhat disapprovingly.

At that point, Janice firmly asserted “Failure is not an option for Preacher.”

“It never is.” Content Not Found: montano answered coolly, before briefly locking eyes with her.

“Other woman, I don’t trust. Her name, I forget it?” said Croaker, sitting across from Content Not Found: montano, in his broken Darokinian, while picking at his teeth with a dagger.

“Oana Luciu I think it was,” replied Content Not Found: montano thoughtfully, while lighting up another cigarette. “

The conversation is suddenly broken by the sound of a chair scraping across the floor as a man at the back of the room stood up. “This,” he said rather flatly, while placing a wood-carving on the table next to him, “is stupid!” No one said a word as the tall man walked out.

Immediately as the footsteps of the tall man are out of earshot and without missing a beat, the halfling piped up “Soooooo," eyeing out the wood-carving mischievously, “who wants to team up with Milly?”

The awkward lingering presence of the halfling’s question is suddenly broken by the musical sound of a lute…

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