The Story So Far...
Having recently dispatched a band of Orcs the party was forced to retreat as two snipers in the Orc's party have taken up position in the quarried manor the party was investigating. The party retreats to what is left of the walls surrounding the property with the body of the Orc Boss in tow. Propped against the wall in a sitting position the body is searched by Ramona (D20+4 = 14. He has 20 pieces on him. He carries a Falchion made of fine steel, but lacking any magical properties (deals d8 damage). He also carries a knife both a map and a notice. The notice is written in Common.
“Those who seek the greatest of fortunes should look no further than what shall be Fortress Southwald. Ole Sharkey has developed a new plan. One in which Man & Orc shall unite the lessers and become the greater whole. Where we shall overthrow the criminals of Lamplight and with our forces conquer the South. Let Elves perish in the flames. If you are of worth head to the Junction and make your way to River Row, Lot 20. There you will be inducted and can continue forth. -North Prevails!”
Taicho: Uses Rune of Healing to Heal Rendford (2d6 = 8 points). “Do you wish a rune, Ray?”
Ramona: “Please.” She grits her teeth as she feels Taicho's hand trace over her skin. “What is that, that mark you draw?”
Taicho: “I'm drawing a symbol of healing of my people. This symbol encourages long life and happiness.” <Heals Ramona 2d6 = 9 points.> Nods as her skin begins to knit itself. “Don't you feel full of long life and happiness?”
Ramona: “Well I know I'm not dying. Speaking of- what do we do about those Orcs in the tower?”
Rendford: “We got probably our best leads from this fellow here. Might not want to tempt fate by striking at the Orcs.”
Taicho: Reads a scroll and heals himself (2d6 = 5). He shudders as he feels his insides begin to knit themselves together. “What if we make our way back to town?”
Ramona: “They could follow us. Give away our position in the forest to whatever might be out there.”
Rendford: “At least if they follow us they are out in the open and not skulking waiting for us to flush them out. We need to get back and hire who we can and as quickly as we can if we are going to set out.”
Ramona: “How much energy you got left in you Taicho?”
Taicho: Sighs and closes his eyes: “I can feel my essence sapped. I do have scrolls... but that is what I can offer.”
Ramona: Nods and says: “Then let's head back. Hopefully those last two will scatter back towhatever hole they crawled out of.”
Weather roll (7 – Mild, Overcast, Showers)
Using the ill weather as cover the three begin to trudge back towards Gorman's Junction. The plains are clear since the fight with the Goblins and the Orcs and the party is unmolested for the first 4 miles. For 3 miles (4-5-6) the party leaves the plains and re-enter the woods with brief downpours of rain slapping against leaves. The rain slows thing that requires a 4th mile (mile 7) before the party leaves the square they were at. (Encounter 1-in-6 = 5) At mile 8-9-10-11 the party continues through the forest encountering little but neutral or friendly wildlife. The day has rolled into evening in what shall be a dark and dreary night.
Rendford makes a Survival check to find a secure place <Invokes Survivalist talent for d20+4 w/ Advantage = 20.>. Rendford is able to find a small cave that appears to be clear. The party is able to find shelter and build a fire as a heavy storm rolls in.
Rendford: As rain continues to lash the earth, Rendford takes sometime to get a fire going. He rubs his hands and sighs as he looks towards the mouth of the cave. “No finer weather to listen to than rain. The way it pounds on the cave. It helps a fellow sleep.”
Taicho: “It is very magical. Tengu believe that rain is a gift from our ancestor. Helps the fruit of orchards grow and the rows of cherry blossoms bloom. The wood of a cherry blossom tree, that's what serves as my pen. The leaves we crush and mix into pigment for our inks.”
Ramona: “It's just the rain to me. You get a lot more where I come from.” Ramona leans against the wall and sighs.
Taicho: “What is your lands like, Ray?”
Ramona: “My lands? I guess you mean the lands I was born some couple hundred years ago. They are no longer my lands, though. They got closed off.”
Taicho: “What are they like?”
Ramona: “Oh... Sunrae has always been a land of green plains and rolling hills. That's the interior, of course. Our northern border are plentiful in trees of the Chiming Forest. So named due to many tales of the trees singing when the wind passes through them. It's a very haunting song.”
Rendford: “Now the other question, the one on my mind is... what made you leave?”
Taicho: “Certainly the lady does not wish to speak on painful memories...”
Ramona: Looks between the two and says: “The usual story. I didn't want to marry a man I didn't love. So, I found myself given exile... all because I wouldn't say yes.” She shrugged. “At least I'm free, I guess. I'm in a cave with a Dwarf and a bird-man, but at least I'm free.”
Taicho: “How very true about your situation, madam.”
Rendford: “I'll take first watch...”
<1-in-6 chance for an encounter as the night slips away. The result is: 2>
The night slips by kind of cold, kind of dreary, and very wet. But it does pass the party by as they rest in the cave. By next day the party begins to move through what is left of the forest. The trip through the last stretch of the forest takes up roughly 3 one mile plain square. Thus two-and-a-half hours is spent walking and chatting as the party emerges from the forest back into the tilled farmlands. The party continues towards Gorman's Junction with just one possible encounter roll. The area is well patrolled <1-in-8 chance = 6>. No major encounter occurs while walking back towards the Junction.
Rendford: “So, our first order of business is to recruit someone. I'll look into that.”
Taicho: “I will speak to Mrs. Palmer, see if she knows anything about this Sharkey or River Row, lot twenty.”
Ramona: “Sounds like a shanty on the river. I'll have a look around there. See what we can find.”
Act 1: Rendford...
Rendford heads to the Tavern of the Full Tankard and buys a couple of drinks and leaves tip in silver (-1 gc).
Rendford: “Heya, Wurther right?”
Wurther: “Welcome back, Master Dwarf. What else can I get you beside more ale?”
Rendford: “I could use some help finding an extra body. You know any other adventuring types that showed up?” <Flashes a second gold coin. He rolls with the Advantage at 2d20+3 = 15>
Wurther: Looks to the corner: “You know how you adventurer's love the corners of my bar?”
Rendford: “That's just an old wives' tale, mate.” He turns to notice an auburn haired human sitting in the corner. She lifts a crystal tumbler to her lips and knocks an amber colored drink back.
Wurther: “Says her name is 'Persefani'. She orders nothing but bourbons.”
Rendford: “Aye, let me have another drink or two... in a tumbler.”
Wurther: “Going to be out of my bourbon stock soon...” Sighs and pours a couple of drinks.
Act 2: Taicho...
Taicho Penwright sips tea in Mrs. Palmer's waiting room. Mrs. Palmer wears her light blue bodice and line shirt as she admires Taicho's silken robes.
Palmer: “I hope the next one of your kind I meet is a cloth merchant. I just love the fabric.”
Taicho: “I'll keep you in mind if I make another trip to my homelands. However, I must beg your indulgence on a matter of some import.” Taicho produces a copy of the note he has written using his calligraphy skills. “We recovered a crude form of this letter from some Orcs at that Manor you mentioned. Does any of this mean anything to you?”
Palmer: Palmer looks over the letter. <Does she notice anything about the letter? 65% Chance = 12% - Exceptional Yes>. She eyes it and looks back at Taicho: “North Prevails is the calling card of the Red Knives along with the name 'Sharkey'. That's the character they use when they make a signed statement- I don't believe it's an actual person, rather, it's a figure they use when they want to communicate.”
Taicho: “Who are the Red Knives?” He notices that Mrs. Palmer's bright appearance has dimmed at the mention. He tries to raise his brows and pat her hand for her cooperation. <d20+3 = 17>.
Palmer: Looks uneasy, but speaks: “The Red Knives... that goes back not too long after the end of the Great War. Elves and men, the North and the South fought over who should control all of the Known World. Two thrones, promising their people they would conquer the other side and open the riches to those who had suffered and bled. Only to end in a stalemate. They instead signed a treaty that created the Borderlands to separate the two and for the North expelled the Orcs whom they had promised lands for service, sent them into the Borderland and offered Humans the Orc's lands.”
She shakes her head and continues after a sip of tea: “You know what the Orcs lived on in the North?”
Taicho: “I have a feeling it was not a land of plenty...” He bows his head in thanks as he is served more tea.
Palmer: “Hills, tundra, dirt. Places that grew little in crops and offered little in precious stones, Master Taicho. To the veterans of the Great War it was a slap in the face that they have not forgotten to this day... that is how the Red Knives were born. They long to drive out all they view as undesirables from the Borderlands and claim the region as their own.”
Taicho: “They cannot simply get along and live in the Borderlands?”
Palmer: “Not how it looks to them. All they see is their rightful spoils served up to deter the Elves from invading again. At first, people welcomed the Red Knives and they hoped that their actions would push more non-Humans into Elven lands and open more room for Humanity to take over. In those earliest days, farmers would give food and accept little or no coin- Red Knives engaged in strict policy of who they could rob and who to protect on the roads.” She shook her head, “I have to admit, Master Taicho. I had thought they were doing some good, especially in some of these lawless roads leading into the Borderlands... alas...”
Taicho: Raises a brow and after a thought says: “Did it sour?”
Palmer: She nods and continues: “The food they went through couldn't be replaced by generosity, the donations shrank as people looked after themselves... soon the Red Knives became another band of outlaws. Now that's all they are... ruffians and scalawags who will rob anyone under the guise of fighting for Humanity... if this letter is true they'll even align with Orcs to get what they want.”
Taicho: “Do you know who lives at River Row, lot 20?”
Palmer: Thinks over it and tries to recall <d20+2 = 6>. She shakes her head and says: “I haven't the faintest idea, Master Taicho...”
Act 3: Ramona...
Outside of the Junction are the houses and shacks that make up the river front. Docks hug the coast where flat-bottomed barges and fishing boats sit waiting to take on cargo from the two larger warehouses in the river area or off-load their catch for market or feeding the family. <Weather check = 1 for a Chilly, cloudy, breezy day>. It appears that the low pressure has followed the party into the Junction as rain begins to patter the area. Ramona puts her collar up as she passes the few Human and Ratfolk stevedores who wait under the eaves of the warehouse, smoking as they look out the best they can over the docks. She walks towards into one-story wooden building that is painted red with a angular brown roof. The windows are boarded up and next to the single door is a wooden sign that says “OPEN”.
Ramona: Enters the room and sees a thick build human playing cards at a desk. He turns in his Gnomish swivel chair towards the door. He has dark brown and a light stubble on his chin. She asks: “You one of the Stoutly brothers?”
William: Nods and says: “William Stoutly, at your service.” He smiles, but doesn't stand for the lady. He instead turns from the desk facing away from the door towards the desk facing her. He asks with his hands clasped over his bottler: “How can I help you?”
Ramona: “A friend of mine said you were both good people and also handle boat rentals.”
William: “Oh yeah? Which friend? I got so many.”
Ramona: “I was just curious if you'd know anything about property rentals along the river. Being a neighbor to all these river dwelling folk and all.” Smiles at him.
William: “Well, like I said, I have so many friends- I wouldn't want to say anything that'd get anyone into trouble.”
<Is William hiding something? 65% = 46%. Yes>
Ramona: Eyes William <Sense motive: d20+3. Invokes Keen Senses for Advantage! For 2d20+3 = 18> She senses a coldness to him as he looks her over. He doesn't appear to be phased or charmed by her smile. She asks: “I was just curious if you know anything about River Row, lot 20. I have some money to make it worth your while.”
William: “I don't think that'll be necessary. As far as I know, no one lives there.”
Ramona: “Well then, good evening.” She steps back out into the rain.
Act 4: Rendford, Taicho, & Persefani with later appearance by Ramona
By the time Taicho arrived the rain had kept a lot of people in-doors. He made his way over to the corner where Rendford sat across from armored woman who tipped back another drink.
Persefani: “See, Bourbon is named after the Bourbon brothers of Wheatholm who distilled their whiskey from corn, not like Dwarven barley spirits- no offense.”
Rendford: “None taken... weren't you telling me something about your drinking, Taicho?”
Taicho: “Well... I prefer something sweeter to be honest. Not like what she's downing...”
Persefani: “Hey, if you can't find a woman who can down bourbon neat then she isn't worth your time... speaking of, Rendford.” She shakes her glass.
Rendford: Grunts and raises his hand. He smiles at the barmaid and orders another round (-1 gc). “So, about the work.”
Persefani: Nods and says: “Yes! I'm very interested. It was either this or helping out on the river barge pulling guard duty, and I was not looking forward to be the only sellsword on the water.”
Taicho: “Well, we are not quite sure if we plan to go on river.”
Persefani: “I got a line from a Captain Dellward who is paying good money. One hundred gold coins, plus 10% the value of his cargo if he can get it safely to Seaside via the Marsh Route. Free fish and water for people who work with him, the gold is all profit.”
Taicho: “One of our friends isn't very interested in going east.”
Rendford: “Plus, we're looking into trouble in this area right now.”
Persefani: “Well, can't blame a woman who likes opportunity. Alright. So you came across some Orcs who gave you a note about some more trouble in the region. Where do we start from there?”
Ramona: Enters and shakes water off of her. She approaches the table and gives a few hellos. “I've been down to see your good folk, Rendford. The Stoutlys didn't exactly like my look.”
Rendford: “Well that's no surprise. William and Billy lost their eldest brother, Teddy to the Great War-”
Ramona: “I thought you said these were good folk...”
Persefani: “Good folk, bad memories. Hey! Don't get upset.” Pushes some of her auburn hair away to reveal a point to her ears. “I've got a touch of the Elvish in me. I don't keep this hair long just to catch the eye of someone to buy me drinks, though it helps.”
Ramona: “I didn't get much about the address. We might have to take a look ourselves.”
Taicho: “Mrs. Palmer has revealed much to me in her own way. This Sharkey fellow is an alias...” Leans forward and says: “In some way this has to do with a group called 'Red Knives'.”
<Would Rendford, Ramona, or Persefani get the reference? 65% Yes = 02%! Exceptional Yes. Who would know? 1 + 1d6 (1-3 equals one extra person, 4-6 equals all three knowing the reference) = 1. Rendford & Persefani having been travelers who lived outside of Rathmer would know.>
Rendford: Nods gravely and said: “I thought I recognized the name. Now that you mention it, it makes me shudder even more. I hate to say it but some of my own Dwarven-kind have joined that disreputable group.”
Persefani: “I had a few run-ins with the curs.” She gives a sympathetic look to Ramona: “I'm afraid they won't take any pity or mercy on people like us?”
Ramona: “On women?”
Persefani: “On anyone who is an Elf... but you mention that they were talking about Orcs. That's... odd.”
Taicho: “Yes. Mrs. Palmer expressed surprise that such a group would consider allying with Orcs. Seeing as they wish to drive Orcs from the Borderlands into Elven regions. I guess times have grown quite dire.”
Rendford: “Well, now that we have Ilisanona in our ranks, perhaps it's a good time to pay this River Row a visit.”
The party agrees and after another shot walks out. <Weather check = 10 – heavy storms>. Nothing let's up, in fact, lightning begins to flash and the world that was already grey turns a little bit darker...