ASFTD: Session XII
With Valentin slain and the Baronial Mansion back in the hands of forces loyal to Baron Theobald Hohensten, the party moved to read the contract that they had stolen from Valentin, and also moved to question the two Shadow Elves who remained in the Great Hall, who were clearly on their guard, but who were no longer acting aggressively. The contract stated that Valentin, who claimed to have ownership of the Barony of Hohensten was offering to hand it over to the Kin of Sabratha, as the actions of the Baron in his bid to buy back his own son from them had driven it into economic ruin, and that there was little way out of their current predicament. In exchange for handing over the nation to them, Valentin demanded that he should be placed in overall control of the territory as the kin’s client king, who would take overall responsibility for managing the territory. In addition to this, all other contracts and deals that had been entered into by the Kin of Sabratha and anyone else who claimed to rule the Barony were to be drawn into this new contract, with the weight for ensuring that its terms were met placed on Valentin or his descendants. Having read the contract, the party began to question the Shadow Elf negotiator, who introduced himself as Berut, about what the situation was now that Valentin was dead, and he confirmed that the contract was now essentially null and void given that its main broker was now deceased and had no known relatives. However, he stated that in order for this situation to be accepted by the Kin of Sabratha, the contract, evidence that then main actor named within it was dead and a representative of those who killed the aforementioned, must present themselves before a senior member of the Kin so that the situation could be accepted as an accurate account of events, and that the representative of the Kin who reports directly into the Matriarch, could be satisfied that all of this information was a true reflection of the situation. Berut offered to contact his superiors then to stop things continuing as planned with relation to Hohensten in the Underdark, and he fell into a trance to magically convey the message. When he came to, Berut reported that a meeting was to take place in one and a half days at the village of Ansbirn in the north of the Barony, to bring matters to a close. The party agreed that it should be them who brokered the final part of the deal, and knowing that they had time, decided to rest from the ordeal of the night before, prior to setting off. As Thorwald went to tend to the wounded around the keep before turning in, Merric and Flint went off into the town to update Linde Frankesen about the events that had taken place and find a healer to tend to the Baron, who was still unconscious on his throne, whilst Elijah, taking 100 gold pieces from Valentin’s corpse went first to repay the debt that he owed to the smith Egmont, and paid it off in gold rather than in Deep Dwarf steel. Following this Elijah went to the Temple of Ludgera to pay a call on the head priestess, Bruna and to donate the rest of the gold that he had taken from Valentin to the temple, a gesture that was gratefully received. Following this, the party retired for a well-deserved rest. The next morning, the party reconvened and readied themselves to set off for the village of Ansbirn. As part of these preparations Wolfram, the Captain of the Guard agreed to send three trusted guards with them, one of whom was their old friend, Kepler, and to provide them with enough good horses to make the journey in time. This was followed by a visit to the Baron, who had been moved up to his bed chambers in the upper floors of the mansion to receive medical treatment, and where they were told by the attendant healer from the Temple of Ludgera, that it was unlikely that he would pull through. Before they left, Thorwald and Elijah took Wolfram, to one side and questioned him about his standpoint and loyalties if the Baron did not make it and were to die, if Tommen his heir were not recovered from the Kin of Sabratha. Wolfram replied that his ultimate loyalty was to the Barony and that if the Baron died without an heir he would assume control to guide the nation into talks geared to establishing a form of popular rule, upon whose agreement, he would relinquish the position of authority. Judging Wolfram to be of good character and true to his word, the party, along with the Shadow Elves and extra guards who were accompanying them set off for Ansbirn. It took them until about late afternoon to reach the village, having driven their horses a bit harder than they otherwise might have, to ensure that they reached the location of the meeting in plenty of time. The village of Ansbirn wold have once been a quiet, rural community of around 300 people in its heyday, but it was now a ruin, having been repeatedly raided by the Kin of Sabratha and all of its inhabitant having either been taken away or fled. Arriving at the village, the party set about exploring their surroundings, whilst Elijah, Berut, his Shadow Elf bodyguard and the guardsmen from Kleinhaupt setting up camp in the ruins of an old blacksmiths shop. As Finn began to explore some of the houses, and Thorwald the abandoned temple of Ludgera, Merric, unbeknownst to the rest of the party, made his way to the house that had once been his family home. There he took in the once familiar scene and searched for any sign of what had happened to them. He was pleased to discover that the house appeared to have been abandoned before the village was completely ruined, as bags and the family’s most precious personal items had gone, indicating that they had fled, rather than having been taken captive. Whilst Merric was investigating his own past, Thorwald entered the temple of Ludgera, and judging that it was safe, began to restore the place of worship to a respectful state. Whilst he was setting out some offerings at the foot of the temple’s main devotional statue, he noticed a particularly horrid stench, which he traced out of the temple and to one of the nearby buildings on the outskirts of the village. Fearing what he might find there, he called over Elijah and Finn, and moved into investigate. After Thorwald threw a stone through one of the house’s windows, the party heard a definite noise of something stirring, and Elijah, creeping up to peer through one of the windows, saw a Troll stirring from the nest it had built itself, and then exiting through a large hole in the back of the house. Judging that something was afoot, Elijah began to track the Troll, but realised too late that it was being drawn to the centre of the village where they had made their camp. He made this realisation just as the Troll charged out into the open, snatching up one of the Baronial guards who was drawing water from the well, and eating him whole. With that, Elijah and the rest of the party moved into attack, to save themselves, the horses and to make safe the meeting place. After a tense fight in which both Finn and Merric were badly injured, the Troll was slain, and the party were able to take some respite. Having seen the effect that fire had had on the Trolls regenerative flesh, Finn built a pyre around its enormous corpse and burned it adding a stench to the air that was not exactly pleasant, but was just about bearable. As night fell, the party took turns keeping a look out, and several hours after night fall, Finn noticed a group of Shadow Elves moving almost silently into Ansbirn. Leading the group was the familiar figure of Bedezorus, who greeted Elijah and Thorwald warmly and swiftly got down to the business end of the meeting. Bedezorus was clearly disappointed with the cancelling of the contract now that Valentin was dead, but he was able to gain some satisfaction from the proceedings as he ordered Berut’s bodyguard to kill the hapless negotiator on site, for his poor use of judgement in brokering the deal. With Bedezorus satisfied that there was enough evidence for the contract to be cancelled, he brought forth the group of Linde Frankesen’s men, that the party had asked to be reserved for them in the Wailing Cavern, so that they could buy them back for Linde and thereby gain their freedom. In addition, a young, gaunt looking man who was missing his right ear was brought forth, Tommen, son of Baron Theobald Hohensten. As the party realised that they did not have enough money to buy the freedom of Linde’s men, they bargained with Bedezorus to trade the life of Tommen, who was now technically free and had been passed into their care, for the lives of at least 12 others, a deal that Bedezorus was happy to agree to. The party judged that the proposed changes and introduction of democratic rule in Hohensten on the Baron’s death, along with saving more than one soul from a life of servitude was a justifiable excuse to commit Tommen Hohensten to a life of who knows what torments as an unwilling guest of the Kin of Sabratha. As Linde’s men were released in to the party’s care, Tommen was led away and Bedezorus and the Shadow Elves prepared to make their departure, Bedezorus bid farewell to the players, and asked them to visit him in the city of Sabratha as his guest, promising that he could give them well paid work if they had the stomach for it. With that they left, leaving the players to rest for the evening before making their way back to Kleinhaupt. The next day the party began their journey back to the Baronial Capital, and on their arrival, they were greeted by large numbers of the town’s inhabitants who came out to welcome them back. They were escorted straight to the Baronial Mansion, whose flags had been replaced by black flags, where they were greeted by Wolfram, Linde Frankesen, Notker, Anselma and Bruna. Wolfram informed the party that the Baron was dead, and seeing that Tommen was not with them, they began to discuss plans for holding the first public assembly to decide how the Barony should be governed from then on. In the meantime, the party were invited into the Great Hall, to eat and drink and Wolfram offered them whatever they wished that was in his power to give in reward for their deeds. As the party began to move into the Great Hall of Kleinhaupt's Baronial Mansion, drawn by the smell of fresh food and drink, Thorwald noticed Rain slip away from the group and duck down the side of the building. Following him at a distance, Thorwald entered the alleyway between the great hall and the surrounding wall, and could see Rain that rain had stopped about half way down the passage. The Half-Orc was kneeling down in front of the much smaller, spindly, winged figure, that Thorwald recognised as Zakeel, who was holding up a large, Orcish looking skull to Rain, whose forehead he was touching with the tips of the fingers on his right hand. Thorwald knew that whatever events Rain was being shown that were linked to the skull were deeply troubling for his friend, whose tearstained face was beginning to contort itself into an expression of rage and vengeance. Fin.