Lost Lore 32: Family Matters

Another favor leads to far more than initially anticipated

General Summary

Another busy week later and we've still made little progress on the decision regarding Ebbo and Bailey Peach. She was let out to go perform her scheduled surgery in Trentpoole but ever since we've kept these two under close eye in spite of what we've witnessed her deal-maker do to her since. On the topic of Nika, I explained that I thought she was more likely another miscreant from Nisaba for me to watch after and accepted the responsibility to chasing her about the Wagner Abbey all week and making sure she didn't steal things from anyone while here. Her magical nature is something she's still fairly reluctant to talk about. She tries to change the subject or playfully brush it off. She just doesn't want to dip into that yet. She does, however, talk to something that only she seems to be able to see. Not often but when she's by herself, this presence is almost always with her. On the other hand, she's very good with kids, or at least seems to have a good time when with them and they with her. She's not necessarily "responsible" with kids but that's a different matter.   Neville put his ear to the street at our request and found out that Nika is worth a lot of money to a lot of people. Most notably, she is wanted by The Black Thorn Society and rumors say it's one of The Three Crowns that is searching for her. Supposedly a number of independent bounty hunters are looking to bring her in, names like Allard Killian and Ghalrum Grannis, that asshole who shot Ospher with the anti-manacite bullet are among the names that have accepted the contract. We also got a courier from the Grand Order of the Lion with a report by their Captain Rioter regarding the circumstances around the detainment of Nika and then his cadre's subsequent encounter with Bailey Peach and Ebbo Dobb from that same night where they attempted to hunt Milka, Yelemar, Rashua, and Conrin. Very busy group it seems, and incredibly detailed notes. The mention of Seagravia worries me for what Joriah may tell others regarding the Mirror, but we'll have to cross that bridge when it comes, aflame or no.   On the topic the Vault site and mirror, the search for Donovo is not easy and all signs point to him likely being vaporized by the chaotic waves of distorted time. Bianca can do more work down there when we have the chance, but don't necessarily know that it will yield much in the search for someone who lost their life trying to save the city from diabolical machinations. In a parallel thought to this, we've also kept in contact with Skrag and continuing to charm him has yielded additional information and updates on what is happening beneath the city streets: deploying and activating the "Mega-Auger" seemed to go very well, until they broke into a chamber containing "very angry vermin". He says these creatures come in a huge variety of dangerous forms. They seem to carry a myriad of diseases that, so far, the Wretchling folk are largely immune to. They're not immune to the swarms of vermin and strange humanoid-sized rat-things that are emerging from the region regularly. Work is slowing and Skrag is reaching out to allies outside of the mine for assistance before it negatively impacts his relationship with Black Mark Acquisitions. This may complicate things sub-surface but until it does, it actively impedes their progress of harvesting time scabs and weakens the Rat King so his fight with the Pudding King is also in jeopardy.   Of final note, Bianca did some great work examining the 'Time Crystals' as we've taken to calling them and our suspicions were correct, they're the scabbed-over effect of a time stream that is trying to right itself. Breaking them open let's dangerous, raw temporal energy loose and that energy can be used to fuel magical spells. Time Crystals can also release a very dangerous blast of energy if cracked or broken. Anyone close to a Time Crystal that is improperly handled will have to brace themselves for a horrendous few moments as their minds are dragged across hundreds of years and an infinity of different timelines. This is likely the most complicating factor in learning the ultimate fate of Donovo, did he suffer this distortion or was he catapulted into another timeline or into the far flung future/past? I will write no more of this until we have conclusive notes as the guilt here does weigh upon me.  
"I really like the idea of Stardust day. I talked to Janka more about it and... it seems like a really nice thing she did for Ospher. So she has that going for her I guess. Anyway, um, I got these tickets to the Winter Races at the race track in Black Forest from one of my... constituents? Wow that sounds weird. I have constituents. Anyway, I think they were trying to bribe me for something, who knows. But, I was wondering if you wanted to come with me. It's supposed to be a lot of fun and I think these are really good seats? Obviously it's totally fine if you're busy or have plans or hate horses."
We need to work on your sales tactics, Alderwoman Sparrow. I am neither busy, don't plans, nor hate horses. We can go see that Bookstore of rarity she mentioned while we're there too."
Charity asking Adjenna out on a date
  Winter's chill has fully settled into the region at this point and the first snow of the season is currently falling. The town is a much prettier place during the winter than Ghal Pelor was, Ospher and I both agreed on that. The Kreastos retained a surprising number of people to both keep the streets swept of snow and salted to prevent the formation of icy patches, instead of Ghal Pelor's mire of blackened snow, trampled but untold numbers of people. Atel's Strength was in full swing and the new year rapidly approaches. Charity and I were enjoying the bribery Horse Race tickets she obtained from someone looking to sway her vote on some matter or another. We were just leaving the racetrack near sundown at Calpiper Park in Schwartzwald district, waiting in a carriage queue and she was venerating some breaded sausage on a stick that she bought at the track here, when I noticed across the street from the queue was the Black Forest Menagerie closing for the evening, but a large crowd had gathered at The Gates, including constables of the Kreastos.   The crowd appeared to be people just leaving the menagerie and stopped as whatever ruckus began there, the constables had a jailer coach parked outside so someone was definitely getting arrested. After mentioning that she knew we were close to where the Adamantite Order's dojo is, she expressed that she was willing get closer to scope out the chaos inside the zoo. We went around to the edge of the crowd and saw four constables dragging a woman toward the jailers coach and four more constables waiting by the coach with two sets of manacles. It was difficult to make out in the fading light, but I could tell it was an auburn haired woman, dressed in very simple clothes, work overalls and a large toolbelt, overall the appearance of a handyperson around the menagerie itself. What stood out though was that her pupils were vertical oval in the iris and running up both arms were trails of green scales going up to her shoulders, her countenance a shambles of broken will and poor control as she thrashed about in their arms.  
"I heard people can get rough and tumble at the Menagerie, but I've never been."
— Charity on the gathered crowd
  Curse my luck for bringing it to Charity's attention, but she clearly saw the broken mien on the woman as well as she conjectured that it might be a type of Fae we were unfamiliar with. The commotion of the crowd had many people repeating the same facts: this 'monster' was found inside attempting to blow the place up. I found this unlikely and borderline amusing considering it is a place of captive animals primarily and while Charity considered that maybe the woman was a Fae in Frial which I countered that we knew of plenty of Fae in Frial, just not their locations. Charity got back to flagging down a coach while I sought out a constable to confirm the rumor or dismiss it as I supposed.  
"Is that a Fae? Do you think they found a Fae?"
"Hmmm."
"I don't know my Fae all that well."
"I wonder what happened."
— Charity and a coy Adjenna
  One of the constables controlling the crowd made it clear that the safety of the menagerie was at stake and asserting they now had it under control. I told him that I was trustworthy enough to know more and he waited for a quieter moment to explain that he wasn't in there himself but that the 'snake lady' had planted an explosive device. He explained that they would take her to City Center to be held until awaiting trial to be placed in the eminently escapable Frial prison. A coach arrived for the two of us, and intrigued by what I had seen here, I directed the driver to 8th street in City Center so we could perhaps meet with Rowna before returning to the Orphanarium. Charity sensed that I was put off by the entire event and the arrest, asking if I knew anything about it, but I told her we could discuss it once we could get more information as well. She was allayed briefly.  
"Snake lady?"
"Evidently."
"I didn't know we had those, whatever that is."
— Charity and Adjenna on the arrested woman
  Back in the lounge at the school, Ospher just sat down after preparing some treats and hot chocolate for the kids, some of them seeing their first snowfall ever, while Janka offered to keep Bailey Peach company in the basement, playing her music and teaching her dance as well as making sure Ebbo didn't manage to chew through the actual bars of the cell. Bianca was working on a concentrated coffee device called 'Espresso' in the kitchen, while Nika was teaching some of the kids how to run a shell game nearby. Tadlo and Lorgan were singing some winter-based old gnomish songs, and Crisnos and Brightshine had a series of maps of abandoned buildings and confectioner areas in Frial where they've checked for Gutrot Wren and trying to align on what the next targets could be. Love popped in, interrupting Ospher's moment of quiet enjoyment, to let him know that the school had a visitor, Rowna the Oracle.   Hurrying to the door to receive her, Rowna was waiting in the foyer in a large heavy coat, and smiled when she knew Ospher arrived. She handed over a basket she was carrying, filled mostly with a vegetable called Evasti, similar in size and shape to an onion but with a lavender-like quality to it, Ospher was familiar with it as difficult to get outside the elven farmlands, with fussy soil requirements. She got down to business rather quickly then explaining she needed our help once more but this time for some members of her family that tend to create havoc. She had banished them and they were returning against her wishes, but they were capable spellcasters and able to evade her sight and mask their plans from her greater divination. Their names, Saville Bran and Rycroft Bran, are very well known to the oldest of the Arcane Underground within Frial, as people as aloof from the day to day of the city like The Lord Solar or Red Claw are numbered among those who put bounties out on their head prior to their exile. Despite their prowess at dodging their grandmother's vision, some of her contacts passed word onto her of their proximity, prompting her to action.  
"Somebody named Rowna?"
"The Oracle? Here?"
Love shrugs, unsure
"Welcome her in. Is she with her assistant?"
"No, just by herself."
— Love Birdie and Ospher discussing a school visitor
"Please please, come in, it's freezing out there."
"It gets worse, this is quite tropical for a Frial winter so far."
— Ospher and Rowna
"Where did you find these?"
"A lot of interesting things come and go from the Trentpoole and the docks and I thought it would be a nice opportunity to thank you for some of what you've been doing with the circles. And maybe to umm ask for unfortunately yet another favor."
— Ospher and the entreating Oracle, Rowna
"The trouble is as it always is, family. Two of my grandchildren have returned to the region, I haven't seen them in years and I sent them away because they have a penchant for being trouble makers, especially with the circles here. I told them not to return to Frial, but I can see that they're on their way."
— Rowna explaining why she is visiting, never for just pleasantries or dropping off vegetables
"I'm sorry to hear that. Sometimes family is all we have. For you to not want to see them anymore, what sort of trouble are we talking about?"
"I do very much want to see them, it's just, unfortunately, they have a way of stirring up trouble with the circles, and then falling back on my name to get out of it."
— Ospher and Rowna discuss her blood relations
  Among their old friends in the area, Shae of the Lily Street Youth Club, prior to taking over the gang, used to be very close with Saville, and another of their friends, a 'loathsome' barber named Winslow, who operates out of Becklinberg. She hoped that we could find them and 'quietly bring them in' before word got out that they're back and either do them grievous harm or worse cast their lot with them in whatever scheme they've cooked up this time. At Ospher's urging, she explained that while we might carry no weight socially, our words and force could likely convince them, as we would be the most willing to not use deadly force. After this Ospher agreed, while learning more of their history and familial story: her children are fully capable of magics and eventually moved east to Ghal Pelor to pursue a different path while these two embraced this.  
"What is it that they've done in the past to so upset people here?"
"They would say they're pranksters, but they stole, lit headquarters on fire, almost broken the public rules about magic use, kidnapped city officials, the list goes on."
"My word."
— Ospher and Rowna discuss Saville and Rycroft's rap sheet
"I appreciate it beyond measure as you said, family is precious and we have so few. Even these two, despite all that they've done, I still have nothing but love in my heart for them."
— Rowna on her grandsons
"I don't think either one of them has done an altruistic thing in their lives."
— Rowna on her grandsons
"Oh fancy company is here. Why?"
— Janka on seeing the Oracle in the Abbey
  Considering that they were veiled from Rowna's sight, Ospher attempted to try the Eye of Basul, Rycroft yielded nothing but murky black nothingness, while Saville had somehow concocted a deluge of pornographic imagery. Janka had wished Bailey a good night and came up to the lounge with a request from Bailey Peach, that someone send a note to her mom that she's OK, since he hasn't been able to check in with her since the Grand Order of the Lion caught up with her. Ospher checked with Crisnos and Brightshine if they've ever heard of Winslow in Becklinburg and Crisnos explained they scouted the area since the last time, and it all looked pretty desolate, no where for a barber to really have a shop set up, at least, in the old-town we knew of. Considering this information, he tried to use the Eye of Basul and conjured an image of a obese man, not totally fitting within the Eye, larger than Chef Pete, dressed well, with a curly black mustache, waxed bald head and clipping away at something or someone with flecks of hair and skin/blood flying off his 'customer'. The scissors appeared to Ospher as constructed of Balmoran Steel and some inlaid inscribed glowing runes.  
"We are... manhunters?"
"Why don't we call it detectives detecting?"
"I like this, Detective Janka."
— Janka and Ospher on whether or not Rowna's request makes us bounty hunters
"Do we need bear traps?"
"Bear traps?! We're not hunting an animal."
"Ok, I have bear traps."
"I'm sure you do, and as a matter of fact we actually do too."
"They're good ones from the north, from my family."
— Janka and Ospher on the necessity of detectiving-quality bear traps
"My papa used to say that the bear traps of the north are not good for the south because everything has spindly little legs down here. It clips them right off."
— Janka on family lessons
"Have either of you ever heard of this Winslow character near Becklinburg?"
"I... don't know anyone."
"What? Sketchy."
— Ospher and Brightshine
"I've been coaching him to hold information and not just blabber everything out."
"Smart."
"If anyone ever catches us I don't want him to give away everything about the school and weaknesses, because he will."
"I appreciate that."
— Crisnos and Ospher on Brightshine keeping mum
"Who knows? Becklinburgers are nothing if not human cockroaches."
— Crisnos on if the town still had a population
  Pulling up to the Oracle's shop on 8th street, there were no lights on and a sign in the window said closed. Glancing about, I saw some dwindling smoke from her chimney suggesting she had recently left, fresh carriage tracks leaving City center, one of her allies across the street a baker named Judit, wrapping things up at Smell the Flours and she explained that she had just left for business with Ospher, of all people. Dreading the worst, considering the vaguely worded comments to me in the past, we set back out to return to the school after accepting some of Judit's unsold bread. On the ride back, Charity tried to corner me on what was going on with the urgency to see the Oracle after starting out with some small talk about the prisoners, which tells me she's still not great at small talk. I figured with the Oracle being at the school already, there was not point in having the conversation twice, once with her and then again with Ospher and Rowna so I evaded revealing anything without denying anything.  
"We're out of the loop, I guess." Charity does a stage whisper"Secrets!"
— Charity to Adjenna on Rowna seeing Ospher
"Speaking of the abbey and specifically the prison, which we weren't talking about, maybe we should talk about the prison at some point and the prisoners we have do there? I don't know, maybe we should be doing something with them."
"You want to talk about that right now?"
"Well we're in a wagon and I got nothing."
"Ok, uhhhm, we could kill them... or not."
"Okay, maybe a different topic but uhhhhhhhh the horse race was nice!"
"Do you want them dead or not?"
"No, I just thought it would be nice to figure out what we're going to do with the people in our prison."
— Charity and Adjenna on Bailey and Ebbo
"What would you like to see happen?"
"Not the thing you mentioned!"
"It was the starting point for a discussion, what would you like to see happen?"
— Adjenna and Charity
"I don't know, I didn't really think about what was possible, I just didn't want us to get used to the idea that there's people in a prison cell in our basement and kinda not do anything about it."
"I don't like it either, but I am only possessed as a fraction of concern for Bailey that you and Ospher are, but Dobb should not see freedom again."
"Yeah, I don't think Ebbo would be good, like, free range."
— Charity to Adjenna on why she wants to talk about this
"Nika, I think is already a reasonably decent person."
"Mostly, over the last few days I've seen her teaching some of the kids how to operate a shell game and steal from people, so..."
"That is an important skill."
"I don't know if that's important for young wizards to have?"
"It's the sort of thing that could keep them alive during difficult times."
— Adjenna and Charity on Nika's activities since being let out
"What were we coming to talk to the oracle for?"
"I wanted to know what she could tell us about the menagerie situation."
"About the snake situation. What do you know about it?"
"I know some."
"Seems like seeing it and rushing to the Oracle..."
"It's something we might deal with, yeah."
"Okay, i was concerned for you, it seemed important and urgent and..."
"It was on the way home, everything said."
"Okay..."
"What would you like me to say?"
"Whatever you're comfortable with. Just know that I'll help you with whatever it is."
"I expect that, I'd just like to know if it's an actual problem for us or not."
— Charity to Adjenna on her secrets
  Pulling back up on Acorn Way, there was a carriage already parked outside with snow accumulating and heading inside we saw Rowna in the lounge with Ospher with everyone snacking down on cookies while Bianca was shouting and hitting a machine in the kitchen with a wrench. I got her and Ospher's attention and waved them into one of the admin offices, casting a Silence spell over the common area just outside the door to ruin any eavesdropping. Charity pulled out a friend and breaded sausage on a stick from the race track for Ospher and I handed him over Judit's bread, noting where it came from to their surprise. I told the Oracle that we needed to talk about what was going on in town and she said that she hadn't really dug into what what was happening at this moment since she was preoccupied, ostensibly, with her Grandsons. Ospher was fairly confused at my combative demeanor with her and as Charity explained what we saw I noticed the Oracle's surprise at the recollection of events, telling me she must have been genuinely concerned about what she had going on.    
"Is this something sensitive?"
"Yes, of course."
"Should we talk about my business or your business first? I'll take it in any order."
"Let's talk ours."
— Rowna and Adjenna
"Are you familiar with what's going on in Schwartzwald?"
"I am not, should I be?" Adjenna glares at her "I can see whatever I choose to see but my eyes are not always open."
"There's a bomb plot that was thwarted there today."
"Oh my. Gutrot Wren?"
"Bomb."
— Adjenna and Rowna
"Can you extend your eye for me?"
"What am I looking for?"
"Family."
"Interesting that you mention that, that's what I came here tonight for. I assume you don't mean mine though?"
"Maybe...?" Adjenna is surprised and confused at the possible insinuation
— Adjenna and Rowna
"With just a snippet of my sight, I can tell that something unusual, something foreign, has come to the city, but such threads are common. I would need more time to walk this particular one to know more. It could take me a day, but there's something that has come to Black Forest. Family does sound... familiar. And not mine."
— Rowna on her visions
"I'm a little lost here, what's going on here??"
— Ospher before anything has been explained
"... it was tough to see because it was getting dark but I'm pretty sure she had serpent eyes and some scales running up her arms..."
— Charity on the arrested person
  Ospher mused aloud that this was more reminiscent of a Fae, and while it is akin to someone like Cassiopeia, as a direct agent of the Shadow Court, she would be unlikely to involve herself directly in such action and exposure. I then reminded them of having told them if my family were to show up, we would likely be facing a complicated situation, which lead to some clarifying questions from them and my admission that this woman was unmistakably my relation, however far. Asking Rowna directly of what she knows of the Family and my pedigree, from her explanation I understood that while she was confident that I posed no threat to the overall status quo she seeks to maintain here in the covert society of Frial, she wasn't aware because she didn't see that as an imminent threat to her goals.  
"Charity, as I explained before, were my family to come calling, kill them. You remember this, yes?"
"Yeah I remember, we all have complicated family situations."
"Not me!"
— Adjenna, Charity, and Ospher discuss
"Ospher, you don't know if it is complicated until complicated comes knocking on the door."
"And I pray that it never does. It would break my heart to have to move that way against my own family. And I would like to consider the incident with your Grandfather to be self-defense."
"Yeah absolutely. But if he ever showed up again, I'd kill him in cold blood."
"Under the circumstances, I think that's fair."
"Reiterating the fact that we will kill each other's family if we ask."
— Charity and Ospher
"You say that you don't know the circumstances until they show up, I can guarantee that the circumstances of my family showing up would be complicated."
"That's ominous. I'd trust you to know."
— Adjenna and Ospher
"Was that that lady that was being taken in your family?"
"Yes."
"Oh, like your sister?"
"No."
— Charity and Adjenna
"Are we talking literally here? I just want to make sure we're on the same page."
"Distant cousin."
"I see."
— Ospher and Adjenna
"When Ospher and I realized that we wouldn't make any headway in Ghal Pelor, I was very eager to go to Frial because it was the furthest I could hope to be from any of them. So seeing any of them here sets me at ill-ease."
— Adjenna to Charity on leaving Ghal Pelor
"This is starting become a very busy evening and we haven't even gotten to why Rowna came."
— Ospher to Charity and Adjenna
"You know, yes?"
"I don't."
"But you looked in on us, on me."
"I only need to travel so far down a thread to know what I need to know, I'm not guardian of the world, just maintaining these circles."
"I'm not saying that, I'm just saying you know about me and my family."
"I could if I wished. I have not walked that far down your path. Maybe I need to."
— Adjenna and Rowna on Rowna's prior comments
  We spoke at length about my concerns with everything that happened: my sisters they lacked the numbers of people in order to move any plans I was familiar with forward; none of the plans involved zoos; none of the cultistry I had ever heard of could gift them the power to track a wayward sister like me. I tried to explain what it is the Family is and how we were taught our past but stopped after scratching the basics of it since I realized that the last thing I ever wanted to do was teach anyone else, especially my friends, those old rotten lies. Rowna then re-explained to us now what was going on with her grandchildren as we asked similar questions to Ospher prior to our arrival.  
"To put this bluntly to the three of you, I am a half-elf and more."
"Yes, that I can see."
"Is the other half human?"
— Adjenna, Ospher, and Charity
"No, I am a half elf and more. It's not that the other half is something else, its more. It's beyond that."
"Well my initial guess of that other woman being a medusa is clearly wrong, Cassieopea does not see you as such."
"Are you a Fae?"
— Adjenna, Ospher, and Charity
"No, we were here long before Fae arrived."
Charity whispers "What are you talking about?"
— Adjenna and Charity
"And we hide. We can hide beneath the surface. Because that's what they wanted when they made us."
"They?"
"Are you a pudding?"
— Adjenna, Ospher, and Charity
"It's difficult for me to explain without just telling you all that I know. But what I know is just all the teachings, it's all bias. There's no counterpoint."
— Adjenna on why she can't put it to words
"I always assumed that whatever you were keeping to yourself was in part to protect yourself but also to protect those around you. Is this distant relative of yours going to be a problem because of that nature?"
"Likely, yes."
"Then you only need to tell us as much as we need to know."
— Ospher and Adjenna
"The sect I was in, they were looking to build population, they weren't looking to destabilize and overthrow, not with their numbers."
"I'm guessing none of these plans had anything to do with blowing up a building in a zoo."
— Adjenna and Charity
"That's the other thing, how did the Kreastos know to shut this down, who was the 'insider, what was said?"
"Yeah, that's true."
— Adjenna and Charity
"Maybe you could send somebody else in there, under the guise of the magic circles to talk to her and ask your questions?"
"Although I really don't know what kind of reason we could concoct for me to legitimately go in there and question her."
"I'm the alderman, I'll figure that out."
— Charity and Ospher on questioning the other Lamiah
"What's your family doing today?"
— Adjenna to Rowna
"If you can help me with this family matter, I will certainly do my best to help you with your family as well."
"In theory, that's how the magic circles should work, but instead it's all mired in politics and whatever the hell is going on with the Locklanders."
"I think the Locklanders might fall in with them, if anything. They're always looking for some quick means to power and that's always been the carrot my grandsons have offered to those they wish to manipulate."
"This is sounding less like pranks and more like dangerous sorcery."
— Rowna and Ospher on the quid pro quo we now engage in
  With Rowna departing afterwards, we discussed what to do in either situation. I expressed that I wouldn't want anything done by any of us in order to glean information on the attempted bombing because even digging of that kind could identify the Circle of the Basilisk or the Alderman of Bellhaven as connected to me and bring down the attention I've desperately evaded until now. But there did stand the lingering thread of what possible goal could have been accomplished with a bombing plot, mass murder, a coverup, or just to get some attention and see if there's others like me who are flushed to the surface and investigating what is happening with a 'snake woman'.  
"If we have to go to Becklinburg I think it is going to be, as usual, a dangerous foray."
— Ospher
  On the Brothers Bran front, we decided that we should follow back up with Shae, since we hadn't seen or heard from her since Rosamin and the Berrii. We knew that they were currently infatuated with a bar in Trentpoole on Lily Street called Rotten Apple Bar and Inn, and walking it up it gave off a peculiar vibe, like the roughest daycare, crowded with kids running around, making demands of the staff who couldn't hope to keep up, all while engaged in everything you wouldn't expect from little kids. We spotted Shae in the corner, collecting from some stabbers as she held audiences with her crew, and spotting us, cleared out the ones at the table who pocketed their recently stolen goods and offered us their seats and exchanged brief pleasantries before asking her if any of her old friends had been buy to visit. She quipped about the age of her circle and how she was the oldest of them, at which point to motioned to her listeners to give it up and brought up Saville and Rycroft.  
"Look, we didn't even invade your mind's privacy or anything."
"That's only for emergencies."
"How kind. How courteous. How normal. Thank you for coming."
— Adjenna, Ospher, and Shae
"We're magic circles, does anything we ever do count as normal?"
"Not being able to spy on someone whilst they're on a toilet is..."
"Everyone is always obsessed about the commode. I never understand that."
— Ospher, Shae, and Adjenna
"However you do it, that tool should be with the Oracle. She's the only one I would trust with it."
— Shae on people scrying and communicating
  She hadn't been in contact with them in six or seven years, and last she heard in that time, they were attacking Manacite wagons as they left Tengu Town to sell Manacite elsewhere but that was the last of it. She explained more about them, Saville is suave and hot, whereas Rycroft is dour and the brains of the operation, and that she was cozy with Saville at the time, but hardly the only one in the position. They did things that would draw more and more attention until they couldn't afford to pay for the cover they needed to not get the heat circling in on them and before their exile, relocated their base from Trentpoole in the lap of purchased luxury with the Lords of Trentpoole all the way out to Becklinburg where she parted ways with them due to the oddities of that town. Supposedly, when they landed there they found themselves a patron in Becklinburg, and as she put it 'high up in the noble circles' of the town, which we had never seen trace of.  
"There were a few things that I was involved with, with them. I was cozy with Saville, everybody's cozy with Saville, he's more than easy on the eyes. He's the sweetest nicest scam artist you'll ever meet. Oh the man is butter, he's smooth."
— Shae on her history with the Brothers
"And Rycroft?"
"The opposite. A real harridan, but a thinker for sure. I couldn't see one surviving without the other."
— Ospher and Shae
"Are they back in the area?"
"So says Rowna."
"Exciting. Things haven't been exciting in a while."
— Shae and Ospher
"They used to be down here, well, here on Lily Street, and they were certainly taken care of by the L.o.T. and they had to pay for that, but they were certainly welcome because they brought in all sorts of contraband. But, you know, the more that they stepped on toes here in the city, the more unwelcome they became, so they ended up spending a lot of time out in Becklinburg."
— Shae on the Bran's old haunts
"So it's pretty unlikely that they're here in town, if that's the case."
"I mean they're pretty good at not being seen, but they're not good at not doing outlandish stuff."
— Adjenna and Shae
"From what I hear, there's nothing in Becklinburg anymore..."
"Not since the flood!"
"Something bubbled up with the flood water..."
"Frog god."
"That's a weird thing to say but okay."
— Shae and Adjenna
"I mean, if you've been there, I've heard that a lot of stuff doesn't necessarily happen on the streets of Becklinburg, but below it."
— Shae on the Undercity of Becklinburg
  In explaining the particulars of their departure from Frial, she mentioned that there was no end to the amount of coin being offered on their heads, which is how people heard in rumors that they had relocated and gained a patron of sorts. She mentioned some of their crimes against the Prismatic Order included stealing and fencing artifacts from them which upset the Adamantite Order, they replaced the hallucinogens in Harvest Children stocks stinking up the park like a proto Gutrot Wren, and then when leaving Frial they stole everything that they could get their hands on from Mr. Brick; leading to all of them issuing these bounties which probably were never cancelled.  
"These guys went from being welcome in a lot of circles, to stepping on toes, to being worth a little bit of coin, you know? Bounty hunters and such, people looking to make that money show up and a lot of them came my way, just like you came my way."
"Well, we don't mean them an actual harm, at least not right now."
"Well you would be the first persons looking for them and not want to take a hammer to their face."
"Well we haven't met yet, so it's still too early to tell."
"Don't take a hammer to Saville's face, anywhere else is fine."
— Shae and Ospher
"My last question, is there still a bounty out for them?"
"Hmmm, probably. I think everyone assumes since they're gone and maybe dead, but if you wanted me to get the word out that they're back in the area, I bet a lot of those contracts, as they say, attend the box seats at the Ebon Orchestra and come back to life."
"That is actually the exact opposite of what we want to happen. Rowna wants them to be alive, and not here causing trouble."
— Adjenna, Shae, and Ospher
"Fair enough, your secret is safe with me, I don't see a ton of profit in it and I don't see any money being made off those two."
— Shae to Ospher and Adjenna
"Saville stole a wand of mine that I would love to get back, but I'm not willing to write a death mark for it."
— Shae on revenge
"I don't know if they ever crossed paths with the Lions, but theirs are the exact sort of faces I could see on one of their wanted posters."
"Yeah that almost seems like a free square on a bingo card."
— Shae and Adjenna
  Shae suggested it was possible that Saville and Rycroft were in the vicinity of the 'supposed' Giant near Highstone, we corrected her that Seagravia is in fact very real, but it did briefly concern us that somehow they could manage to make a situation with her even worse. The topic of Seagravia brought about the casual side of Ospher who let slip that we had a prisoner from the Grand Order who had stolen from the giantess, and while trying to ameliorate that slip up, I mentioned Nika's name which prompted additional attention from Shae. Evidently the bounty hunters we'd heard about from Neville, like Allard "The Hangman" Killian, Galrum Ghrannis were all here making a little bit of noise all about Nika, but for what specifically, Shae couldn't pin down since the rumors were completely contradictory. On the bright side of things, she told us that she wasn't gonna turn in Nika for the bounty since that wasn't something she would like given that the LoT would do that in a heartbeat, so we took that for what it was worth.  
"We currently are housing the thief that attempted to steal some of Seagravia's potent magical items."
"Well if you really wanted to do Auntie Shae a solid, I'd love to see a copy of that report."
"Well we don't really have it, I think they just loaned it to us so that we knew who we were taking in prisoner-wise."
"You got prisoners from the Lions that stole from a Giant??"
— Ospher spilling the beans with Shae
after glaring at Ospher"Nika is not a prisoner, she's just, nice enough."
"Let's call it ward."
"They asked us to make sure she wasn't causing any more problems and that's the favor we're doing for them presently."
— Adjenna and Ospher trying to backpedal to Shae
"...do you guys have any contacts with the Black Thorns Society?"
"I've seen what their like were capable of in Ghal Pelor and I absolutely do not want anything to do with that."
"I ran afoul of them several times in Ghal Pelor and I refused to join their guild, their contacts here are persons I avoid, but I know some former members."
— Shae, Ospher, and Adjenna
"Why?"
"A couple bounty hunters have been coming into the city, more so than usual, and I know there's a name they've been asking about."
"And that is?"
— Adjenna, Shae, and Ospher
"Nika."
"Oh god."
"Wait what."
— Shae, Ospher, and Adjenna
"This seems so shocking to me, she doesn't seem particularly troublesome, as thieves go. What could she have done to deserve such attention?"
"I've heard a lot of rumors, I heard that she stole from one of The Three Crowns, that she absconded with a dragon egg, that, I dunno, it's all a lot but who knows."
— Ospher and Shae
"But hey, if you got her and want to make 2000 gold..."
laughing "We are light on money."
to Ospher and Charity "I thought we weren't signing a death warrant."
— Shae, Ospher, and Adjenna
"That won't even pay for a new wing, but it might put progress into that damn pool they won't shut up about."
"We're wizards we can magic it up! But it all depends on their final grades...."
— Charity and Ospher on turning down a lot of money
"At the moment, 2,000 gold isn't worth making trouble with Magic School, so I ain't saying nothing."
"Oh, well we're very fond of you too Shae."
"Oh I know. If I made that money, I'd be petty and that'd make me a Lord of Trentpoole and that's not me. Those people will sell out their mom for a fresh loaf of bread."
— Shae and Ospher on keeping mum
  Moving onto general catching up, the LoT had been laying very low since being used as the entry point for a group of very poor infiltration and with some of their ranks lost in the coverup, they've taken the pressure off of LSYC in the meantime. With that good news for her, we departed after Shae offered to help us solve some 'money woes' she explained that everyone has an alderman in their pockets, they're cheap they're all crooked. Charity got very nervous, explaining the tickets for the race were for the Candle Place and she frantically reconsidered what she had agreed to do in exchange for them.   Stepping outside, I explained that based on how long ago all this happened, Neville could possibly provide another angle on all these stories with Rowna's grand-kids, and giving his former acquaintance with Shae, he might have been involved too. We sought him out at the school and after not finding him there, we were told by Tyrom yet in the library working with the Scribes that he's usually at a pub called The Whispering Rat, an out of the way quiet murky tavern at the edge of city center. We walked in and he was already waving us over as we picked him out among the patrons within, seated at a table drinking with his familiar, who drank from a thimble at the table with him. Jumping straight into Rowna's news, Neville explained he was familiar with them and corroborating all the stories and he'd heard of Winslow, but described him as more of rumored serial killer stalking whatever the equivalent of night is in Becklinburg. He'd only ever been there once, on the way here to Frial for the first time and made it a less than one night stay in town.  
"You got a nice hearth and warm school to be in and here you are at the Whispering Rat. I question your taste."
— Neville to us
"Every town has got its boogie men, even a town filled with boogie men. You know that whole town is based on a cult right? And this cult of the Frog god existed out there. Well this barber was supposedly this serial killer, for lack of a better word, just preying on these people taking who he wanted, and I always heard it was a Barber based on the way the heads they found were always carved up. No hair, clean cuts. 'The Barber of Becklinburg.'"
— Neville on Winslow
  Neville had a lot of good information about the two of their strengths, explaining that they were sorcerers, with everyone having mentioned it as 'in their blood'. He said he could discreetly listen for anything on their plans and mentioned he'd talk to Nimoy and find out if he'd heard anything, at which point I asked him to convey listening for any goings on with the averted bomb plot at the zoo. He then mentioned he finally heard back on The Savage: they want Ebbo Dobb and they want him dead, preferably at their hands. He said that he wasn't very clear on it, but he thinks that for them, killing someone is the first step in a pretty long and involved thing with souls and animals that are intermingled. We didn't have much else to say after this and left him and his rodent to their privacy and set off back out into the snowy evening to return back to the Abbey and make preparations for a trip to Becklinburg.  
"She fell in pretty hard with Saville, they ran together pretty tight. They were an item for sure. I think she bought into it a lot more than he did or he gave his all, but his all happened to be very brief and shallow. But yeah, they were close."
— Neville on Shae and Saville's relationship
"No, I was small back then, they would have used and abused me, they would have had me doing time in a Kreastos jail."
"Alarming."
"Let's just say they don't have any long term employees."
— Neville and Ospher on if Neville ever worked with the brothers
"Rycroft was always the thinker right, he would come up with the ideas and Saville would do what he could to help make it happen but uh if there was a scheme, it was him. He was a historian, be basically always knew where the good old stuff was buried."
— Neville on Rycroft's skill
"Saville is charming, but he doesn't know how to run an organization or plot long term. Rycroft could do it if he wasn't so abrasive, so I don't think they're back here to make any sort of power play or anything.
— Neville on their politics ability
"If you're ever looking for money go to the zoo."
"What do you mean?"
"They're always looking for weird shit. If you find some weird shit animals, they'll pay good money."
"Yeah last I heard they were looking for Terror Birds. If that's what you're interested in, they'll pay a lotta money per head."
— Neville and Ospher on the Menagerie
"They absolutely want to kill that kid and something about ripping the man and the beast apart after that."
— Neville on The Savage wanting Ebbo
"So do we go to Becklinburg and hunt for a serial killer orrrr..."
"I hate that idea, but maybe."
Ospher shakes his head vigorously "We are running out of leads unfortunately and it sounds like if anyone was going to harbor the two of them then it would this suspicious character."
— Adjenna, Charity, and Ospher
"Nika is starting to become my new Janka."
— Charity
  As we walked in, Janka was seated on a chaise near the entryway with a very full backpack and a single bear-trap strapped to the side of it. We settled on at that moment Janka, since she was already packed and how am I going to unilaterally shut that down, Nika because she'll bring an outsider and money oriented perspective to all of this and after that we sought out Yelemar for a final perspective on the two of them since he's lived in Frial for some time and was likely a victim of their 'prank'. He was very unhappy to be reminded of them and professed to have been present on the 'Night of the Red Squat', they were all poisoned by their ritual brew. He was also aware of Rycroft's interest in the ancient Frial's possible cache's below the surface and what's more that the two always professed to have claims of traces of Divinity.  
"Those two were always abusing the influence they had been born into within the city."
— Yelemar on Rycroft and Saville
"The two of them were always obsessed with a lineage to to the divine, like the old gods."
— Yelemar on their interests
  Bianca dropped by then to deliver a syrupy cup of 'espresso' to Ospher, and I stepped away to consult Nisaba over Yelemar's mention of divinity. Nisaba conveyed familiarity and awareness of these Brothers and the family aspect of it hinted at them not being wrong on their assumptions. Finally there was a sense of something outside the city being very bad for Frial, with these two being unwitting harbingers of a very bad happenstance. From all this, I knew she was worried, these two use the idea of lineage to justify what they can get away with, their pranks don't teach anyone anything, and that our party will face an issue of free will when we face them, and our ability to actually confront them. I explained some of this to Charity and Ospher, but couched it in possible misunderstanding.  
"This is an odd cup of coffee Bianca."
"I know, I'm working on it, I drink a lot of coffee, I know how it's supposed to be. I'm hoping at least the taste is right?"
— Ospher and Bianca
  In light of all this, I advocated for Tadlo and Lorgen to come with us as well, there would be ample need for skulkery in Becklinburg and who knows what we would face in tracking down the two. We approached Nika in explaining that she was coming with us and would need to give us some background on how it was she heard about the seed, since the Giant talk hadn't spread far and wide at that point in time. But she denied having known whomever she stole from in the past was a Red/White/Black Crown and that it was an exaggeration and wasn't aware of the bounty on her head. In her roundabout story of how she knew of the seed, she explained that she knows a guy in the 'weird ruined city north of here' who just happens to know every little hidden treasure in the region and is really fat and well dressed with a waxed mustache. What luck.  
"Normally, I don't divulge my sources, but since you guys pay for my room and board I think it's fair..."
— Nika on her connections
"I guess the point is here, if you had knowingly stolen from one of the crowns, you would have been bragging about that already, and you are not."
"Yeah, absolutely."
— Adjenna and Nika
"Either I did steal from a crown... or I'm gonna clear my name, and find out who the real thief is, and get the bounty."
— Nika
"So Seagravia. I found out about her through, you're not gonna believe this, but there is this guy, and when I say guy I mean there is three guys meshed into one gross body who just knows all these secrets about the whole area, and I heard through him that there was this treasure trove by High Stone that I could basically make a fortune off of. And if I brought him this specific thing, he would be the buyer, so I wouldn't even need to look for a buyer. And he gave me 10% up front!"
— Nika on how she heard about the seed while describing Winslow's corpulence
"That's him."
"Was he real fat??"
"One of the fattest I've ever seen."
"Oh yeah, that's him for sure. But he smells like lavender, it's so nice."
— Ospher and Nika matching descriptions up of her contact and the Barber of Becklinburg
"I'm so glad I fell in with you guys, this sounds like a charming adventure. We're meeting some old ladies' grand-kids who are out there just trying to make a living."
— Nika on our mission from Rowna
 
  Setting out in the snowy night on brooms, it took us a little over over an hour to reach the familiar but unfamiliar outskirts of Becklinburg. The gloom cast by the absence of even a single fire lighting the town was overpowering and the lack of light from Cetna this night concealed the frozen-over flood waters as well. Nika explained that she had used to meet up with Winslow nearby the town, and led us on while we kept a lookout for Becklinburgers and signs of life in town. The old Barber shop she pointed out was in ruins, flooded, windows broken, walls collapsed, but swinging in the chilly wind the sign declaring Barbery Services here adjacent to a still surviving front door. Charity and Lorgen's assessment was that the Frog God himself had likely broken the building in his rampage, a massive footprint in the middle of the shop. The ruin empty of recent activity save broken boxes, remains of some seats, and jars of chemicals, we set out on the frozen paths towards some forms in the darkness Charity had spotted on the way over.  
"It had all the walls when I was here. They weren't great walls, so nobody's probably missing them."
— Nika on Winslow's former shop
Pointing at the massive footprint "You don't see as worried about that as I might be. What's going on there?"
"Oh, Froghemoth, that's their god."
— Nika and Adjenna
"I don't know what that is, but it sounds not great."
"You're correct."
— Nika and Ospher on Froghemoth
"You all seem so cool under pressure."
"We've been here more than once, unfortunately."
"Why?"
"That's a good question."
— Nika and Ospher on Becklinburg
"I've never been here, so I'm innocent of all this."
her comment earns a glare from Adjenna "Your grandmother was here!"
"I wasn't here though."
"You came with us!!"
whispering "I'm trying to to give her somebody to relate to."
— Janka and Adjenna regarding Nika
  Approaching the building Charity saw movement in, it appeared to have been a cooper's warehouse, with lots of broken barrels everywhere and some strange sap or syrup leaking out of a few of them that's frozen over. We didn't spot any light coming from within, but trusting Charity's observation, Lorgen and Ospher went in to spy upon what was happening within whilst we took a lap around the building in order to make sure there wasn't another exit or others outside.  
"What a weird city. You wouldn't expect a place this downtrodden to also be this hostile to people coming in. Maybe a certain alderman we know should reach out and see if these people need assistance?"
shaking her head "I don't think these frog worshipers want any of our help."
"Who are we to interfere with their freedom of worship?"
— Tadlo, Charity, and Ospher on Becklinburg
  Ospher and Lorgen moved quietly within, Nisaba's blessing upon them, and heard some strange voices within accompanied by some heavy steps crunching through the ice within. The words sounded like dwarven to Ospher, but some sort of bastardization of the language, words from some other language worked in and what he could pick up of it related to scouting, targets, and locating assets. As far as numbers of voices, he thought as many as six or seven people, but conversing within absolute darkness within this storehouse. Waiting for an opportune moment, Ospher peeked over the barrel he was concealed against and made out dim forms that certainly appeared dwarven, wrapped in very thick armor, and they seemed to opening the barrels they found within, and regularly expressing disappointment with what they found therein, smashing the offending barrel after seeing the contents with some kind of heavy weapon they carried. As they continued rummaging, Ospher also spotted that the contents of these barrels all appeared to by the same, thick and syrupy and slowly flowing, and with the smell deadened from the cold they couldn't make out much.   They moved up to a better vantage point and made out concretely seven of these Dwarves, ashen-gray faces with wiry red beards and adorned in a sort of gunmetal colored fullplate, unlike any dwarf either had seen before. Listening now to a much clearer conversation, Ospher got the sense that they were looking for something that belongs to them or that they're entitled to, and based on how they interacted, they weren't going about this with the airs of a thief. Up close, the sap/syrup was off, sort of mixed in with a number of different couleurs.   About ten minutes had gone by, we had ensured there was no other way out of the building, so we used the Eye of Basul to check in with Ospher and saw him and Lorgen quietly conversing behind a barrel. He relayed what he knew about these being a non-standard dwarf that we're familiar with and that they were seeking out some possession amongst these barrels. Conveying the description of these Dwarves to Charity and the others, amidst some noise from Nika about a wizard pun, she recalled a schism among the Dwarves around the time of The Queen's Rebuke, where many of them were exiled to a volcanic area in the north due to their enthusiastic embrace of slavery and infernalism, with the ashen faces and red beard being a sort of 'earmark' of these 'Duergar' Dwarves. From that recollection, I pointed out that these 'Duergarians owed their religious fealty to something called The Chain Maker, with slavery and enslaving things being a large component of their faith and that they take the settling of debts very seriously. What was peculiar about them was that while they practice infernalism, they aren't friends with demons, they've received holy teachings on how to imprison them and bind them to powering machines of their creation, 'blessed' with demonic intellect.  
"They don't sound like Becklinburgers that I know of."
" They're too healthy looking."
— Adjenna and Ospher on the grey Dwarves
"You can see and talk to anybody like that?"
" As long as you know their names, at least."
" Oh, you could abuse that big time..."
" To look at people's commodes right?" Adjenna points very strongly at Nika's face "Don't."
"Uhhhh, I didn't have time to think of that particular violation, but yes."Nika and Adjenna as Nika marveled at the magical relic
"Ospher can just hear you? Like in his brain, your brains? Are just talking to each other?"
"Yes, if you put your hand on it, you can talk to his head too."
"Can you hear me?"
— Nika and Adjenna on the Eye of Basul
"Can you hear me? ... It's not worki..."
"I can. Do you need something?"
"Uhhh, umm..."
— Nika and Ospher communicating via telepathy
"Oh, I remember what I want to ask you. What do you call a wizard who loves eating pastries?"
"I'd call them a normal person."
"No, A Pie-romancer, get it? I crafted that one just for you." Nika's hand is then removed from the Eye by Adjenna
— Nika and Ospher
  With this revelation, Ospher ushered Lorgen out silently as we debated what to do regarding these Dwarves' presence and if we should attempt to treat with them. Considering what we knew of the town, we dispatched Charity and Lorgen to head to the old Mayor's house with one of the Paper Birds in case they needed to urgently communicate with us. We set about to concealing ourselves and lying in wait, with Ospher and Nika ready to come forward and speak with the Dwarves after they exit and cannot re-entrench themselves within the building.  
"Why would people come to Becklinburg?"
"For the barber, obviously."
— Ospher and Nika on the Duergar presence
"Did you like the joke? I made it just for you, because it's a cooking one and it's a school of wizards."
"Yes, thank you very good."
with finger quotes to Charity "Pie-romancer."
"That's not like gonna be her thing, right?"
— Nika, Ospher, Adjenna, and Charity discussing Nika's thing
"If we can kill one of them, I can cast a spell to get all the information we need to investigate."
"Let's call that plan D, and now let's come up with plans A, B, and C."
— Janka and Ospher
  After a space of several hundred heartbeats following Lorgen and Charity taking off on broom, the noises of rummaging and breaking within came to a stop and the seven of them trundled out, with just two barrels from within in tow and the others countenanced with agitated expressions, communicating to us they didn't find everything they sought here. They headed across the avenue towards another building past where Tadlo, Janka, and I obscured ourselves at which point Ospher and Nika stepped out, hands raised in the air and calling out in common Dwarven. They reacted as we expected, setting down the barrels, drawing weapons and walking towards them and giving a snide reply, though the lot of them were stopped from violence by their leader who then spoke in common to Ospher.  
"No need for violence. I'm just here looking for something, same as you. Maybe we can help each other."
— Ospher to the grey Dwarves
"We like violence, especially towards small things like you."
— Rando Duergar A
"You're not one of these twists here, are you? Nooo, not sallow enough."
"You mean the Becklingburgers?"
"Sure."
"No I'm not from this town, we're here looking for some people."
"You ain't likely to find people here."
— Ospher and the Lead Duergar
  This leader of theirs explained that while they'd seen a few 'twisteds', their parlance for the mutated populace of the town, they hadn't found the people they sought either. They were here to get the debts due to them paid by the people of this town, whom they engaged in trusting trade with, the Becklinburgers would provide these slavers with 'cattle' and in exchange they would receive 'breeding stock', some of the rainbow colored syrupy liquid, that under my observation seemed to weakly move of it's own accord. He further explained that this proto-slime could be used to interbreed and make more potent offspring slime, they supply them the ingredients and have the expertise in it but once they became delinquent in payment and didn't get an agreed upon shipment, they made the trek to recoup their losses. They arrived several days prior and had thoroughly checked over the town while looking for the 'mayor', the high priest who speaks to/for the Froghemoth they used to keep in the caves. Surprised to hear they knew of their frog god, Ospher told them what had likely happened with the God's escape to all of the 'citizens'.  
"We're here to collect. They owe us, you see."
"What could they have that somebody as you would want."
"They would help round up cattle for us, and in turn, we in turn would give them what they need for their worship. But it's been a while since they paid their dues."
— Lead Duergar and Ospher
"Lighten the mood, it's pretty heavy. Tell them a joke or compliment their armor."
"I don't know that they would appreciate either of those. They look pretty serious."
— Nika and Ospher
"And you make this for them?"
"It's what they were making and they can't pay anymore so we're here to collect. It's their oozes, their slimes, their puddings. They Breed it."
"Did you say pudding??"
"Whatever the word is you choose: slime, they mix them together in these barrels to try and make more potent offspring."
— Lead Duergar and Ospher
"Have you seen Becklinburgers??"
"Not tonight, but between two new friends such as us, I will let you in on a little information. I don't think their Frog God took kindly to them and there very well could be very few of them left."
"Someone owes us."
shrugging "I don't know what to tell you. If you haven't seen them and we haven't, we don't really have any interest in this..." gesturing to the barrels
"We're looking for whomever is highest up left in their cult."
— Lead Duergar and Ospher
  Explaining they were looking for any surviving factotum in their cult, he produced what looked to be a sheaf of... skin? with a number of names on it, people who were signatories to the deal between these two groups, and proceeded to read them aloud, with a just a couple names standing out to us, the Mayor/High Priest Hermes whose name we heard cried out as his people cried out for him to help, and Winslow. Ospher explained that Winslow is someone we sought as well, and with him being a part of the deal, he explained that they had an item that could seek out participants to the deal, but could not use it. A little gem in the shape of a teardrop, and deep red, he claimed it could speak with a similar magical item they possessed, but they hadn't answered and with a secondary function of being able to sense the location of persons who signed to the deal as well. He asked Ospher if he was familiar with the item, casually offering it to him, as Ospher examined it, thinking it to be some sort of variant to a Speaking Stone, and not cursed, as least from his inspection of it.  
"They gave you this?"
"I negotiated it out of someone. He said it would help, but I can't figure it out."
"I see, we have constructs for this sort of thing, but we didn't bring one with. Do you know how it works?"
"May I?"
he hands Ospher the stone, and upon seeing it activate, gives delighted smile "Well, you're in luck, because I think that this stone is not a dud. Wherever Winslow is, he's underground."
— Ospher and the Lead Duergar
  Ospher then offered that we could find Winslow with the use of this Blood-stone and when we locate him, we would contact him to let him know we had found him. They agreed very quickly to this, happy to hand over the stone and delighted to see Ospher could use it in the first place. Asking for his name in order to contact him, he declared himself Belath, while Ospher and Nika then departed from their stares as the Dwarves watching him intently as they left and we pulled back from our hiding places to go regroup away from their eyes.  
"I propose a temporary alliance, we just want to talk to him before you do whatever deal it is that you have with the Becklinburgers."
"Sure, we have no issue with you speaking with him. What do you propose?"
"We can go looking for Winslow and then we can contact you when we find him, but we will need the stone."
"But of course."
— Ospher and Lead Duergar, Belath
"He was real happy when he seen you use that stone. I think he was lying about not knowing how to use that."
— Nika to Ospher
  After Ospher explained exactly what was said between them, I asked to examine the thing with my arcanist's tools and confirmed that the stone did as they said, and they likely wanted to capture Ospher and probably Nika and drag them back to Cinderstone in chains to 'juice them', c'est-à-dire, have them create Manacite from their life's blood. We set out for the Mayor's house atop brooms since we hadn't heard anything from them after dispatching them there, and contacted them with the Eye enroute to make sure they were ok and not captured by a secondary force of Belath's. They were in Hermes' former house, working at chipping through a large pathway caked with ice from floor to ceiling where the staircase should have been down into the underground cavern network.  
"I didn't cast a single spell or use an item anywhere near him. For all he knows, I'm just like an assistant."
"I fail to see how that would keep them from testing you in another fashion."
"Well, they probably won't pursue me as hard when I run into the freezing night."
"Maybe. Maybe they'll just shoot you in the back."
"I could hope."
— Nika and Ospher on Belath's Dwarves
  Reaching them quickly in the dilapidated two story building, they were working to break the unnatural icewall that seemed to have been created to prevent people from accessing the caves from here. Charity had been throwing Fire Bolts at it and making a little bit of work, I levied the Immortality Malady to hack at the wall, and Ospher's Produce Flame generated quite a bit of heat in the tunnel, speeding up the process while the others kept watch behind us and cased the house since we never had checked out the second floor on our prior visit.  
from the top of the stairs "Charity?"
"AHHHH! Okay hi. This town is creepy, you can't just do that!"
— Adjenna and Charity in Hermes' House
  Janka was keeping watch outside the house and spotted Belath's group attempting to skulk between buildings, their heavy armor and heavy boots doing them no favors, and she came back quickly to let us know she thought they must have another stone to track this stone. She went back up to set her bear trap in the detritus of the house while we took another look at the Bloodstone to attempt to disable the thing from tracking us in the catacombs below. Ospher and I examined it once again and this time noticed a spell that was added to it and masterfully hidden, the stone also had a demon trapped inside of it that could essentially communicate with its master on whatever was happening in the world around it, specifically a Barlgura. We agreed this this was not the time to get a very mobile trap sprung on us, so using the Gem of Seeing, I looked at the creature that overlapped us from the ethereal plane, a massive looking ape-like demon, lurking near us, but emaciated and an arm removed and replaced with a black metal clockwork arm that ends in a sort of cannon and other smaller bits of machinery forced into it with almost raised sites of infection bright around them.  
"Oh those bad Dwarves are upstairs, they're skulking poorly."
— Janka
  I addressed it in the native speech learned in a Family home, Balespeech, which surprised it prompting it to roar in its captivity, slightly shuddering the material plane around the gem. I explained that I could send him from this place immediately or he could assist us in ruining the Dwarves scheme and he replied he would prefer freedom from torture. He told me his true name, Vorzanod, allowing my Banishment to cast him loose from the dwarven control to a place free of the anguish that permeates Tairos. His mechanical pieces fell free of him as the crackling fires of his home embraced him, and as I observed that, I figured I would gaze about to make sure there was no further shenanigans happening nearby. The thing that Nika converses with was nearby, a glowing column with some further form that was hard to discern with all the light, and both she and the entity were giving me a concerned look after the demonic conversation I engaged in. I gave it a friendly wave and it disappeared from my sight immediately.  
"You can see me mortal?"
"I can send you home."
"Your plane is toxic, nothing to anchor to."
"Would you prefer to be sent home now or would you like to start lying to the Dwarves for us?"
"They bind me and can inflict pain from any distance, torture us, but you could end that."
— The Barlgura and Adjenna
"I wish to leave now, I don't to feel their lash again."
— Vorzanod the Barlgura
"What are you speaking? Is that dwarven, bad dwarven?"
— Nika to Adjenna to no reply
  With their way of monitoring and trailing us interrupted, we set out to break down the ice wall immediately, leaving the Dwarves well behind and set out into the murky dark beneath the city once again. Pursuing Winslow via the means of the stone, Ospher led us through the labyrinthine tunnels to an area that we thought might be underneath the barbershop. The tunnels all had water of about an ankle's depth and appeared consistently traveled. We heard the occasional whisper of cowering Becklinburgers while passing dark openings, with a similar number of offshoots leading to chambers we avoided having been collapsed by the Frog God's frenzied hopping above. Finally coming to a very well dug out storage chamber, 50 feet long and a large number of citizens waiting about in a queue for what looked to be like rations. The food was being distributed from a number of tables where some of the more 'presentable' Becklinburgers sat, including the great corpulence that is Winslow, they appeared to be accepting any sorts of valuables in exchange for the food, while in exchange for actual gold pieces, they were given dried meats and stale bread.   Pushing through the tired refugees to the front of the line,we stood at the front of the tables and addressed Winslow, his waxed mustache twitching about. We explained we sought information on the Bran brothers and he vacillated about a price for such an important thing. The former Becklinburg nobility seemed to all defer to Winslow, as if they were now in his employ, and while attempting to threaten him with the Deurgar possibly catching up to us shortly, he was confident whatever he needed to do to them would be quite easily managed. He explained that he wanted my hair for whatever sick purposes of either his talents or fetishes, and refused to negotiate on only cutting it or accepting the hair in ashes; I have no great attachment to it beyond that I haven't cut it in many years, but the possibility of him having something by which to work against me isn't an option I'll entertain. I directed the others to try and offer something else at which point Charity boiled over, I hadn't noticed how angry she'd gotten at Winslow wanting my hair and she screamed at him, animatedly threatening him and the other's behind the tables which seemed to get under his skin.  
"You don't look like you're in need of food, but I'm happy to sell to you nonetheless."
— Winslow to Adjenna
"How much for information?"
"Well, that of course depends on what it is that you're looking to know, whether I know, if I'm generous enough to give it away for free."
— Adjenna and Winslow
"Let them come and try to collect, do you think I operate down here with no defense? I know what happens up there, the children pass it down to me."
— Winslow on the Dwarves with their owed debts
"I will tell you where they are, but I want something more than gold; I want your hair. It's lovely."
"Hey he's a creep, he didn't ask me for that and I have nice hair! Don't I have nice hair?"
— Winslow to Adjenna and Nika's reply
"Move onto your next price."
"Well, what else is there really but money and hobbies."
"So what money?"
"Coins will not do, but the things that I could do with that hair."Adjenna and Winslow
"The pleasure of cutting it and no more. You may have it in ashes if you so choose after that."
"These people need their bread, I can't entertain bad business much longer, you understand. Besides, it seems we might need to shift chambers soon to avoid a bloodbath."
— Adjenna negotiating with Winslow
"Do you just want to fuck this guy up? I want to fuck this guy up. Even if he wasn't asking for your hair."
"Yeah he seems unpleasant."
— Charity and Ospher
"She's not giving you her hair, so talk or it's gonna get real ugly in here!"
— Charity going zero to sixty and just screaming at Winslow threatening all the nobility here
  Realizing his setup here could get upended and he'd had to put in a lot more work to corral his customers back, he then agreed to trade for magical items, he saw a number of them on us and having an eye for it evidently, the Old Balmoran armor I was wearing. We offered him the Javelin of Lightning that was recovered by Donovo, Irufan, and Tomlin as well as the finder's goggles I had taken from Ardus Gallow's house and in exchange he told us that Saville and Rycroft had found something interesting in the north that really shouldn't be there, an ancient Baradradi tomb. Winslow knew a few things about it, and even provided them with one of the keys to get inside, but the brothers would need two keys to get in and the other key was out in the middle of Lake Bask and they would likely be somewhere in between there and Fountain Head, a little settlement not far from where the tomb ended up. Our business concluded, I told him we would be back at some point to discuss ourselves and each other, if he was going to continue his work in the area, we would want some familiarity with his motivations. He seemed happy with that and gave us directions on how to get back above ground expediently and not the same way that Belath would be coming, with the exit being a well camouflaged cave mouth outside of town away from the lake.  
"I don't want a fight, you can call off your dog."
"Make it worth my while so I can buy more bread for my patrons here and we'll call it square."
"I'm ready to say no deal and magic missile this guy until he dies from it."
"I'm sure you are, but there are people who will suffer for the lack of this fuck feeding his people who may not deserve to be caught up in the middle of all this."
— Winslow, Charity, and Adjenna
"I'm just here doing the Frog God's will."
"Yeah the Frog God does work in mysterious ways."
— Winslow and Ospher
"You have yourself a deal little man."
— Winslow to Ospher
"They found something a bit interesting to the north, a tomb. A tomb that should not be here, mired in the swamp in the forest there. Rumor is it is covered in Baradradi glyphs or something from the scorch."
— Winslow explaining the Bran's plan
"So they're at the tomb or on the way to the second key?"
"Depends on how efficient they are, they've been known to take their time."
— Adjenna and Winslow
"I can tell you the town they went to or I can tell you where the second key is?"
"You can tell us both, and the next time we come back, we won't have a problem."
"A hard bargain. I was going to ask for one more trinket for both, but I sensed that would be pushing the limits here a little bit."
— Winslow and Adjenna
"Next time we come back, our conversation will be more personable. We will talk, as opposed to bargain, yes?"
"I'm a buisnessman first and foremost."
"We are all businesspersons, but if you're going to be operating in the area, we should know one another better. I don't want to have to come back here every time somebody wants me to hunt down Winslow, you understand?"
"I do, I do understand, that's good business. I look forward to meeting you again, it seems like we'll be frequent friends."
"Good."
— Adjenna and Winslow
"If Belath catches up to you, tell him we send our regards."
"I don't necessarily know if you'll be seeing those debt collectors again."
"I do not mourn for that prospect then."
"Becklinburg is no place for tax collectors."
— Ospher and Winslow
  We set out towards Fountain Head via broom again, but we contacted Rashua shortly after taking off since we needed to know more about why a Baradradi tomb could be so far from the desert lands. He was sleeping and was happy to explain that his people's had essentially been exiles from the College of Magic for practicing Necromantic Arts, but not in an overtly evil way, and had never had an empire per se that extended anywhere near Lake Bask. But the places they moved into were once part of the ancient empire of Skyrir, who had supposedly invented Necromancy itself. Considering this angle, we then contacted Bianca who was likely still awake since she never sleeps and has looted Skyriran tombs in the past by her own admission.  
"I'm glad you didn't have to give up your hair, I would have killed that guy before that. I don't think he's doing anybody any good."
"I would have sooner burnt it all down to my skull."
"Even if he wasn't going to do anything weirdly magical with it, which I would not bet any amount of money on that it wasn't, it's weird."Charity, Adjenna, and Ospher
"He's exactly the sort of person that would watch someone in the commode, I'm just going to say it."
"I don't want to judge people based on their appearances, but this time I'm going to judge someone based on their appearance."
— Adjenna and Ospher
"The Eye of Basul is probably his holiest relic."
"Oh my god, you can never give that up, ever. Too much power."
"His pants would have exploded if we offered that yeah."
— Adjenna, Charity, and Ospher
"Whomever you give that to, you should never tell them your name."
— Janka regarding the Eye of Basul
  She started off with explaining that The Empire of Skyrir was very good at charting the stars and upon me urging her onward, she explained their capital used to be in the Scorch, the Undead/necromancy connection, they built a lot of tombs and based their early religion around the concept that people can be brought back from the dead in a 'perfect state', but they hadn't exactly unlocked it and so they would entomb and preserve people until that was achieved. Their traps tended to be constructed in such a way that people's lives were sacrificed to make them and that would allow the trap, upon firing, to absorb the soul of whomever it killed in order to re-empower the device, which is both ghastly and clever. Their Undead weren't shambling and biting Undead, but very organized, well trained soldiers as well. After briefly explaining to her what the situation was, she expressed interest in coming along to see an in-tact tomb, but without us knowing what was actually happening with them, I couldn't justify turning around to find out we failed Rowna. I bade her to sleep and we would let her know as soon as practical.  
"Bianca, this ia Adjenna."
"AHHH! It never gets easier!"
— Adjenna contacted Bianca via the Eye
"Alright, so you looted several of their tombs though, right? That's where you got this boomerang..."
"Welll yeah, alright ok, but I'm an archaeologist. We don't say looting."
— Adjenna and Bianca on splitting hairs
"Do you have an intact one that we could, you know, not loot, but bring to light for educational purposes?"
— Bianca on Skyriran tombs
"I mean, I don't know what you're doing right now, but you could come back and get me and I'll, uhhh, I don't know, I could order something and have it ready like sandwiches." after several seconds of silence "Do you want a sandwich, what do you like on your sandwiches? They're on me, by the way, free sandwiches."
— Bianca begging to come along
"True story, I haven't slept in two days. I think. I can't remember."
— Bianca on her combat readiness
  We arrived in Fountain Head after the cold flight in in the pre-dawn hours and it definitely looked like a settlement that is in its earliest days. There's a lot of buildings still being built, the dock area could hold two ships of a very low draft in the water, but it's well past a tent stage. The village had about ten buildings in total, and a general store/tavern had a sign hung out inviting people in, we headed straight for that and were greeted by a fairly sleepy half-elf barkeep behind the counter wiping things up and just a couple patrons besides him, none of them matching the description of the Bran brothers with no illusions at work within, though one was a Tengu, one of the first I've seen besides Brightshine since Ghal Pelor. The barkeep bade us to sit where we like, explaining that he didn't have much still in stock and he was waiting on a shipment to come in.   He explained he hadn't seen any travelers in town lately, but they were hoping to once the docks were all set up for lumber shipments. We put our heads together at this, wondering if we had somehow misinterpreted Winslow's explanation, with the Tomb's location being a two hour walk south from town, they had to be here somewhere. He asked who we were looking for and staying vague, he said there were a lot of good elven families in town with plenty of brothers, but we could check out the docks or the temple in town. The temple, doubling up as the mayor's house, wasn't dedicated to Correllon Lathander, but instead 'Real Gods', and we could get a room there. He insisted these were Real as real can be gods, not the dead ones that would no longer communicate with them.  
"What do you call a wizard who gives hickies? A Neck-romancer!"
— Nika paid the barkeep to listen to this joke (Proof: https://youtu.be/wvICNOlm--Q?t=7650)
"I can't deal with this. I can't have her."
"Is it worse or better than Janka?"
"So far, leaning towards worse. Because Janka has some redeemable qualities."
— Charity and Adjenna on Nika's jokes
  We set out over to the nicest building in town, very similar to some of the recent additions to the schoolgrounds, and heading up to it, we heard soft music playing a lyre and flute, also sweet smells wafting out from within and lights quite visible through the curtains. We went in and found it to be filled with people celebrating, drinking from cups, served well by persons and towards the center of the room, a number of people fawning over exactly as Shae had described, a rather beautiful man dressed in rainbow colored finery sitting in a throne-like seat, with a goblet in one hand and laughing. Talking to persons enjoying the festival, they confirmed this is 'The God Saville' and he and his brother came down from on high and brought light and hope and they were celebrating their greatness. Supposedly this was not a temple but a house of joy and these gods had always watched over them, even as the other gods died off and withered, they revealed themselves three or four days prior. Ospher got a handpie from a server, it was a mix of apples and different seasonings and between the wine and the quality of the pie, it seemed that no expense was presently being spared.  
"You can use one of my jokes if you want, to icebreak?"
"Not really my style."
"You need to work on that."
— Nika and Ospher
  I stepped outside to speak with Nisaba, trying to understand that if this was what she referred to, and she explained that we should be cautious of what is happening here because what they were engaging in is a violation of the god's divine connection to people. Heading back inside, I discovered that serving people had absolutely loaded down the others with wine and food, directing Tadlo and Lorgen to take the opportunity to cut loose a little bit and hang back while the rest of us went up to speak with Saville himself. They ran after some wine-poached pears and Saville was sipping from his cup and making out with two women and a man. After a brief confusion that I was there to retrieve some wayward family member, I explained that I was from Frial and bore a message from his grandmother that Frial would be unsafe to return to based on their last departure. Immediately exhausted by the topic, he said that their divine plan was to return to Frial and that they had things well in hand for it  
"Hark a traveler from afar! What brings you to my temple, drink food, friends? In search of revelry, I have that in spades."
"Well, specifically, family."
"Oh well, uhh, if you point them out I will be happy to, uhh well, whatever you need with your family."
— Saville and Adjenna showing how sketchy he is from the start
"Saville Bran."
"Ah yes, the name of the new god gets around doesn't it."
"Well once we got to Fountain Head, yeah."
"Well, we start small, Fountain Head was most in need, but you know we will carry the faith, we'll skip Becklinburg and take it straight to Frial."
"That's precisely the reason we're here, family and Frial."
"Ohhh, I see."
— Adjenna and Saville
"I was looking to see which slavish school you might be working for but I don't see anything."
"Your grandmother asked that we remind you that she cares much about you and would prefer to not see you harmed by returning to Frial."
"Oh Granny."
— Saville and Adjenna
"Everybody talks about Ghal Pelor, how nice it is, how this how that, but what they never tell you is the scum in the streets. The filth, the dirt, the refuse people on top of people on top of people."
— Saville
  Seeing him, but not his brother, I asked about Rycroft and he said he was nearby. He called out to him and people parted to reveal in the corner near the fireplace a skinnier and more rugged brooding man dressed in a long dark purple and black coat, minding his own business sipping from a mug, clearly watching everything within the building the entire time. As he stood up and approached, things quieted down significantly and celebrations and jubilant noise died off completely. He had heard the conversation and message and very severely attempted to chase us off, but after a moment of staring Saville said we could stay for a bit before heading back out into the cold. He called out for someone to get us a chair and a bunch of people on a sofa nearby leapt off and started bringing it over by the throne. I headed outside in order to speak with everyone else without these two overhearing.  
"Are you also enjoying your party?"
"Yes, it's fine. we have business, you're here on business. Your business is concluded, you've spoke your piece, I think it's time to go. Unfortunately the inn is full so you'll have to hit the road."
"Well they just got here, and it's so cold outside. I mean you could certainly stay for an hour or two, just don't cause any trouble you know."
— Adjenna, Rycroft, and Saville
  Using the Eye of Basul, I contacted the Oracle and explained what we'd learned and their reply, she explained that their plans shouldn't be allowed to continue uninterrupted and if we could sabotage it, we ought to take that chance without risking out lives. Mutually agreeing that this would likely the worst answer we could have gotten and regretting contacting her, we decided to head back in, with Charity noticeably dejected that she had to go back into a party.    
"You'll know what you're capable of without putting yourselves in danger. I wouldn't want you to risk your life on my behalf, but whatever they're doing with this tomb, it can't be good."
— Rowna on her Grandsons
"Alright, I'm not a great diplomat. Adjenna are you still in their good graces, did you burn a bridge?"
"I don't know, your constituents would say otherwise Alderman."
"Yeah, my constituents kinda take what they get and are just one street."
— Charity and Ospher
  Nika headed off to mingle and drink, Janka went over to join in making music, Tadlo and Lorgen got back to trying the different foods, and I grabbed a large mead to return to Saville and Rycroft's seats at the middle. Saville greeted us warmly and I apologized to Rycroft explaining we've done our favor and now to see this spectacle. Rycroft gave as gracious an answer as he could and told us to take ourselves somewhere else tomorrow. We made small talk of Shae, and the recipe for the hand pies they were making here, which Saville strongly pushed for the cooks to provide and Ospher went back with them to check out the kitchen. It seemed to me that whenever either of the brothers made a request, people moved reflexively, very fast and ready to act on a Bran's whims. It was hard to explain yet, but it seemed very very strange.  
"There you are! The hero of the party, doing a complete turnaround, that's what I wanted to see!"
— Saville seeing us come back in
"Shae says hello, by the way."
"Oh that little Minx? She's still alive? Hopefully the streets haven't scarred her too bad. Is it true that she has a pack of little jackals that worship her every whim now?"
— Ospher and Saville
  Back int he kitchen, the person who was leading Ospher to get the recipe was very insistent to the very exhausted chef running the back, on hearing the request from Saville, he dropped everything was doing and got to writing it down for Ospher. Looking about the kitchen adorned with new equipment, everyone there seemed to be very happy and having a great time, but the signs of exhaustion were unmistakable, some of their hands bandaged, another with an unstoppable tremor. He explained to Ospher the moment the gods arrived, light descended from the Heavens and he was just working the docks at the time and they brought their hearts filled with hope, definitely a religious experience for the man.  
"How long have you been working?"
"Oh, I dunno. We've been doing our best to keep you with the requests of the gods since they got here. And you know how time passes when you're having a great time."
— Ospher and the Head Chef
  Talking with Saville, he professed that he was looking to make peoples lives better and when they left they'd bring the town with them back to Frial, "where ever they're needed" according to Rycroft. Most of the conversation that involved discussion of the people of Fountain Head made it sound as if they were willing to do anything it took to keep the 'gods' happy. Ospher returned shortly thereafter and spoke quietly with Charity and Nika for a few moments while I kept up the conversation, mostly with Saville, Rycroft's dour mood impenetrable yet.  
"Whatever they ask the people to do is the only thing they will do, including neglecting their needs."
"That's not great."
— Ospher and Charity
"What do you call a wizard that's super positive?"
"Dare I ask?"
"An opti-mystic."
"Let's table that one for now."
"Big mistake but ok."
— Nika and Ospher
  Saville was slightly interested to hear about the Arcane Underground, participating in the conversation to relay his thoughts on various peoples he knew while there and the circle's activities in between eating, drinking, and casually molesting people walking by. Evidently one of their old companions post exile ruined a prior attempt to return to town by telling The Savage exactly what they were planning, and Red Claw had hoped for them to executed for their crimes instead of just exile. They admitted to never joining a magic circle, and in asking if they ever did something to the Kreastos, Rycroft was sheepishly proud of having attempted magically influence policy, and seeing that as an actual interest of his I asked what he hoped to accomplish, and he sounded as if I was listening to a more militant version of myself; upset with the draconian ideals of the circles and making sure magic is hard to find in the town, they hope to upend the current membership of the Kreastos and incite, essentially, a second miracle therein, but at their own hands and guide it towards the benefit of all. The downside of hearing myself in someone else's words was watching what the people around us were undergoing to get their ends accomplished thus far, people somehow compelled to their whims, giving up their possessions to these two, surrendering their desires for someone else's.  
"How did you and the Lord Solar bristle one another?"
"Truth be told, he doesn't like not being the most divine thing in the room. And we didn't rub it in his face at all but he just could not stand it."
— Adjenna and Saville
"He's probably jealous because he has to hide his face behind a mask all the time. I bet his face is fucked up."
"So you never saw it?"
"No! I don't want to see a fucked up face!"
— Saville and Adjenna
"Chaff?! What an ugly word for free thinkers."
— Saville Bran
"Things should have been a little bit freer. A whole city's worth of magicians and they have to hide in the dark, operating only at night. Follow the rules of a city in a post-apocalyptic wasteland that is Tairos. You could do a lot more if the council wasn't made up of industry barons from every little neighborhood, and instead made of people at the head of the circles. What if they were in charge, you think they'd be making more appropriate and interesting decisions for the city? Pushing for a bit of common good instead making sure the price of grain doesn't rise above a threshold."
— Rycroft just monologing
"We had some radical ideas."
"I'm intrigued by those ideas, I could subscribe to your newsletter."
— Rycroft and Ospher
"My friends here could attest that I espoused many of those same views not that long ago."
"Is that so? It's rare that we run into anybody that shares the same ideas."
"The 'masquerade', as it were, that happens in the city regarding magic use is ridiculous. All it does it make the town soft."
"True and it puts magicians up against one another fighting for pieces of Manacite that they have to smuggle into the city. People are killing each other to cast a cantrip."
— Adjenna and Rycroft
"Far be it from me to save I have the most accurate assessment, but it still seems like it would just be the two of you and your followers here versus all the circles upon your return. Is that safe?"
"Well, we'll have some new tools. But I think we want to go with an old number, a classic. We need to get ourselves to the Kreastos and talk to the council, face to face."
— Adjenna and Rycroft
"Parts of the old temple are toilets now. We should change that."
— Rycroft on the Kreastos building
"I've never attempted anything in the Kreastos itself. I assumed that they have bedecked themselves in their own types of mages that they don't let out into the streets."
"If they do, we're pretty persuasive, we'll get them on our side too. Mages have a way of falling in line, look at you."
— Adjenna and Rycroft
  Rycroft was so confident in being 'persuasive' that he then demonstrated what Saville referred to as the 'knife trick', whereupon Rycroft called out only "Everybody" in a loud voice to the room and in unison, they were ready to slit each others throats at his command. The silence was overwhelming. He bade them to put the things away shortly thereafter and no one appeared emotionally worse for wear from the experience. Saville seemed embarrassed by the maneuver, but only because it seemed a faux pas. Saville was ready to move past it, explaining that they were going to change everything for the better, but they needed to just pick up some new tools on the way. They believed with an army they intended to persuade their way into borrowing from a nearby tomb, they'd have exactly what they wanted to get into Frial and have their way of things. I said we'd love to see it and Saville explained next sunrise (24 hours from now) they'd look to head in.  
"People are willing to die for this idea."
"Oh not this again. Don't show them the knife trick."
"Oh I'm showing them, they should know. EVERYBODY!" every person in the building we could see, stops their revelry in unison, goes to their belts, and pulls put sharp implements and holds them to other's throats
— Rycroft and Saville
"This was rehearsed?"
"We're gods, we just need a moment's time with the Kreastos and I think we can convince them of our point of view. BACK TO YOUR PARTYING!"
— Adjenna and Rycroft, with the latter demonstrating their ability
"We're gonna crack open that tomb and have a word with whomever's in that casket there and borrow their army."
"Army you say?"
"Oh yeah golden gleaming skull boys."
"Do tell."
"Well, convincing as we are, we'd still just be out there shouting at the walls of Frial for them to let us in."
— Saville and Ospher
"Well, when are we visiting a tomb?"
"Happy to have you along! What's your tomorrow look like?"
— Adjenna and Saville

Missions/Quests Completed

We have discovered Winslow's hideout and have means to locate him at our whim thanks to Belath.
We have located where the tomb is and the whereabouts of Rycroft and Saville Bran.

Character(s) interacted with

Winslow - Serial Killer and Buisness man. He fancies himself a barber, but I expect that's a cover to wield his Old Balmoran Steel shears, I will not trust him with any leavings of my person, that much I can promise. I sense he is a rogue much like those of my flock, but far far more sinister and well beyond any redemption I could hope for. I look forward to learning more about him and will reserve further judgement until then.
Saville Bran - Seemingly the pretty boy of the duo, he professes to be of a similar cut to Rycroft in regard to political bent but with opposing panache. His demeanor seems to be crafted in order for people to underestimate him, but does he possess the same power to forced servitude as his brother?
Rycroft Bran - Unlikable to a fault, his walls are built high for the purpose to suffer no failure beyond that which he has wrought, it seems. Would that he was slightly less extreme in his desires, I would find the chance to discuss my own dreams for Frial worthy of time and planning.
Belath - Come see the quantum man, does he live or is he dead? Will Winslow's assurances hold some water, or must I commit my notes on him 'ere his slaughter? The existence of the Duergar shine a light on the other races in the world, does your doppelganger exist and how much must you be pushed to become him? Whose doppelganger am I and my cursed kin?

Created Content

Report Date
04 Feb 2022
Primary Location
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