APoF 11: Storming the Gates
Though he has done his best to bear the burdens on his shoulders, Steve feels, moreso now than ever, the crushing loneliness of living in such a cruel and twisted world. Knowing that he would be abandoning his friends but also confident that this is the right decision for him, he gathers up all of his own personal belongings and departs, leaving behind anything of value that the party had left to his charge. He does not leave without a word, however, and slips a note underneath Dr. Roth's door before departing to find a way home to the grove watched over by Oakencrown The next day, the party rises to find that their friend is gone, and though Steve's absence stings, there is business to attend to, and they know that they can't waste the time to look for their friend. Dr. Roth shares the note with the rest of the party, and after a quiet moment reading over Steve's note, IkBroknard only has one thing to say: "Idiot." Not wanting to burn daylight, Roth and Broknard leave the inn. Before they seek out people in positions of influence to petition, Roth purchases a shield for himself, emblazoned with the symbol of the Stranger. Afterward, they follow the clear signage in Thirë Kelmar to the military office, walking to the outskirts of town to a building that, if not for the strict utilitarian architecture, would otherwise be rather unremarkable. They realize that they are pretty early when they notice that in the training yard behind the military office, the customary Dawnspar is still taking place. They enter the building and speak to the people at the reception and are told that the commander is expecting their presence, but are asked to wait for a short while until the dawnspar is completed. Fifteen minutes later, the commander in charge of Thirë Kelmar, Lyrman a'Vesten arrives and takes the party to his study. In the typically-pragmatic fashion of the Dominion, Lyrman immediately brings in a fane before any conversation is had to ascertain that the party is being truthful. The situation in Kassar is discussed, but Lyrman expresses a disinclination to declare that Dominion intervention is immediately needed. However, he does state that he believes the party thinks the situation warrants at least a look, and their mentions of the Kassar government having abandoned their foremost obligation to the people, he concedes, warrants an investigation. He sends them on their way, but not before pledging the support of the Dominion, saying that he will send a small troop of a hundred soldiers, and that the party should speak to Andaleýnë a'Devytorë, the trevissi of the troop that will be assigned to the group. Although the party attempts to raise a few matters, with regards to civil suit pending against them, and their desire to establish an adventurer's guild, they are told that they should take up the issue with the civil governor of Thirë Kelmar, as it is beyond the jurisdiction of the military. The party next visits the civil government office of Thirë Kelmar, and after a few minutes they are guided to the office of the governor, Sirin a'Khastam. Although the party immediately wants to get to business, the governor mentions that before the Dominion can offer any sort of civil support, they have to know whether the party is acting in good will, and states that the first matter has to do with Roth. Roth realizes what is about to happen and asks Broknard to depart as what will be discussed is a private matter. Broknard reluctantly agrees. Sirin reveals that the Dominion is aware of Dr. Roth's identity, making a passing comment as to the fact that blood does not lie. She discloses that she knows that Dr. Roth's true name is Saa Osiros, and he is questioned as to his motives. Dr. Roth says that he is seeking asylum as a result of his old life. Sirin says that that is okay, but asks if he has committed any crimes. Dr. Roth confesses that he has, but Sirin doesn't ask for specifics. She tells him that she cannot simply let his crimes pass unpunished, but states that it is the Dominion's belief that criminals who show the potential for reformation are best put to more productive work rather than being sentenced to prison time. So, Sirin sentences Dr. Roth to the task of restabilizing Kassar and resolving the situation over there. Dr. Roth asks that in return, his former record be expunged, that Saa Osiros be marked as dead in the Dominion's records, and a new life for Tullion Roth to be constructed. Sirin says that that can be done, though when Dr. Roth reaches his hand out to shake on the deal, she says that the Dominion doesn't not make deals in handshakes, and she writes out a blood contract between the two of them. After this, Broknard is called back into the room, and the matter of the civil action pending against the party is discussed. Sirin says that in the Dominion's opinion, the lawsuits are frivolous, and that as a result, there will be no action taken against their funds in the Dominion banks. Furthermore, however, she reiterates that they cannot speak of permits and licenses for the establishment of a guild until the party's name is cleared. She also says that the party is entitled to a legal counsel and says that she will send along one of her lawyers, Lisarna a'Korida to support the party in their defense. The next day, the party departs, arriving at the city of IldDamenar in record time thanks to the Dominion troop pushing through the night. Crossing the Ruosh Ambiel will take many hours, so the party crosses over on the first ferry and enters the city, with Andaleýnë riding ahead to inform the local governor as to the reason for their presence in order to allay any fears. Broknard heads to the river to fish, Dr. Roth solemnly handing him the fishing rod that Steve carried around for Broknard. The rest of the group, Viper, Zephyros, and Dr. Roth made their way to a local tavern, by chance meeting Ailos Tepes, Theris Silverfrond, and Thurkear, a group of three adventurers that had agreed to travel together since they shared a common destination. Thurkear uses the common faith between him and Dr. Roth to approach the party, but it is really the drink-off between Zephyros and Viper, which Viper wins handily, and then the drink-off between Ailos and Viper which Viper concedes to Ailos. After discussing their individual motivations and Ailos enthusiastically mentioning that he has wanted to find the Wardens of the Wayward due to tales of their slaying of a green dragon, new friendships are struck and when the party leaves the next day, Ailos, Theris, and Thurkear are among their number. At some point during the long journey to Kassar, the topic of Ailos' empty scabbard comes up. He demonstrates that he does, actually, have a sword, at which point a bet is resolved between Theris and Thurkear. Two days prior to arriving at Kassar, camp is unexpectedly struck in the middle of the day with news that there is a significant company of men camped outside the entrance to Kassar. Andaleýnë, cautious, decides to suspend travel for the rest of the day to prepare for potential conflict. The next day, the troop continues its march, passing through the town of Tymbren to encamp at its northern side, between the town and the encampment on the slopes. A group of three dwarves arrives, demanding to see the commanding officer of the Dominion force, and are given an audience, but the party is invited to be present as well. The dwarves refuse to acknowledge the Dominion's authority and state that their presence is unlawful, demanding to see a warrant. Andaleýnë calmly informs them that they have reason to believe that the government of Kassar has abandoned its primary duty to their people, and that the Dominion force is coming to evaluate the truth of this situation. The dwarves do not take too kindly to this and say that any move made against Kassar will be considered an act of war. Andaleýnë calmly welcomes them to take any move as such, implying that it will not end well for the dwarves if they do. The next day, the troop flies their banners up high to indicate exactly who they are, and the mercenary camp immediately breaks. The leader, Dwltherunn Brymswth, begs the forgiveness of the Dominion and mentions that they were misled, and that last night the dwarves had tried to get the company to flood down the slopes to attack the Dominion camp. Andaleýnë says that all is forgiven, and the mercenaries abandon their position as soon as able, the Dominion using the space that they had cleared for a camp of their own. Andaleýnë asks if the party is up for breaching the city and opening the gates for the Dominion forces, which the party agrees to. After a brief discussion on the the merits of a frontal assault against a sneakier one, they party decides to attack the gates head-on. After transforming Dr. Roth into a fly and letting him get into position, the party rushes for the gates. With his druidic magic, Theris conjures two earthen ramps to give the party access to the tops of the walls, catching the watchmen off-guard. At the same time, Dr. Roth reverted to his human form, and using the element of surprise, delivers a devastating blow to one of the guard captains present at the defense of the gates. But things quickly take a turn for the worse, as the four other guards and the guard captain on the side of the gate that Dr. Roth is on turn around and retaliate with a flurry of blows that he somehow manages to survive. Ailos leaps onto the ramp on the right side and rushes to the top of the gate, briefly stepping through the Shardscape to reappear just above the roof of the guardhouse on the right side and then using the rest of his movement to make it inside. Thurkear conjures a spiritual weapon and rushes up the ramp, ready to fight, but ultimately fails to land any significant hits on the guards on his side of the gate while Theris wreaks havoc on the guards on the opposite side, first decimating their morale by causing the wall to erupt underneath them, and then blasting them with the power of thunderclaps. Unfortunately, a hit against Theris causes him to lose concentration on the stone ramps, which crumble, causing Thurkear and one guard, who he later learns is called Crwse, to fall to the ground. Roth manages to get the portcullis open, but is stuck between two guards, and it isn't until Theris is able to take care of the resistance on top of the wall and help him that Roth is able to properly secure the portcullis. In the meantime, Ailos, who is in the other guard house, is unable to open the gate, until Theris, finished aiding Roth, comes around to help him. Once the gates are flung open, Andaleýnë rides into the city and declares that the government of Kassar has been deemed unfit to govern. She says that Kassar is now under direct Dominion rule. She gives the citizens one chance: capitulate or be given unto the judgment of the Dominion.