June 27th – July 23rd
Sennefer charters a small, two-masted ship called the Wind Song, which is known to be quite fast on the open seas. Despite this, there is no sign of Therin’s ship over the three week journey to the desert nation of Old R’Kassi.
Over the journey, many of the party members take the time to get to know each other quite a bit better (i.e. lots and lots of off screen role-playing). Fenrir and Jane ask Sennefer if there’s anything he can do about the restrictions on magic use in his country. Given that the entire party is composed of mages, not being able to do magic would severely hinder them. Sennefer himself is dissatisfied with the ban on magic, and wishes to change that as soon as he can. However, given that he is not pharaoh yet, the best he can do is give the party signed documents stating that they are working in the service of the crown, and are allowed to possess magic. He advises them that they should still try to stick close to Khemed if at all possible. If caught doing magic, the presence of a recognizable hierophant could be the difference between being able to show those documents and being shot on sight.
Fenrir also sets up some code words with MacGuiller through the communication seal, to verify the other’s identity when communicating (Fenrir is rather paranoid). Since Idania also possesses a seal, he sets up code words with her and Sennefer as well, in case they ever need to communicate through MacGuiller.
One evening, a sea hag leaps onto the ship and attacks, enraged by the beautiful music Shira was playing.
After a few rounds of battle, the hag dragged Shira overboard, but Keladry finished her off with a guiding bolt just in time to prevent Shira from being dragged down into the murky depths. Other than that, the journey is uneventful.
Thanks to all the role-playing experience between sessions, this is enough for everyone to level up to level 3. Shira ditches her armor, since her alluring beauty now directly improves her Armor Class. Jane has another one of her nightmares, waking up everyone in her room by screaming in their heads. Fenrir is also woken up. Turns out Jane is now telepathic.
July 23rd, late afternoon
The three biggest cities of Old R’Kassi are the two port cities of Nasivern and Hieracon on the two deltas of the Great River, and the capitol of Isunova where the river branches meet further inland. Therin’s ship was listed as heading to the smaller port city of Nivaos, a few days north of Nasivern. The Wind Song docks at Nasivern first, where Sennefer and Idania disembark in order to take a river barge up the river to the capitol. Before they go, they arrange payment for the Wind Song to keep following the adventurer’s direction for another month. This is so that if Therin heads somewhere else in a hurry once you find her in Nivaos, you can continue to pursue her without the delay of finding another ship. While the ship is stopped, Fenrir teaches Jane how to swim.
At the docks of Nivaos, there’s lots of unhidden staring pointing in your direction. You are obviously foreigners, and accompanied by a very recognizable hierophant. Everyone except for Khemed feels very much out of place.
The city of Nivaos is watched over by Lord Anubis and Lady Isis. Their temples stand on opposite sides of the city’s main square. Khemed goes to the Temple of Isis for a place to stay (they accommodate passing clerics, but not their companions). Fenrir goes off to find an old friend, but soon rejoins the rest of the party in finding an inn to stay in for the night.
Casual inquiries about Therin turn up not much. No one at the tavern seems to have heard the name, at least the ones who were willing to talk to you at all. Khemed goes to the local sheriff’s to make inquiries, where he learns that Therin is apparently in league with the local authorities. This is, as you can imagine, troubling.
The next morning, as Khemed is leaving the Temple of Isis, he is greeted by a cleric of Anubis, who warns him, point blank, that if Khemed and his companions don’t stop investigating, there will be trouble. He and everyone in town know that Therin and company are extremely dangerous, and he wishes to provide fair warning to a fellow cleric of the danger he faces.
Meanwhile, Fenrir has turned into a cat in order to investigate Therin’s ship. It turns out that it contains only a skeleton crew of sailors, and while what are presumably Therin’s rooms are locked, his cat ears don’t detect the sounds of anyone inside them. Talking to the portmaster’s clerk, the party learns that Therin’s ship unloaded its cargo without anything unusual catching the clerk’s eye, and no you can’t look at the shipping records themselves, who the hell even are you?
While the party is trying to figure out what to do next, a scared looking kid (named Aka) pops us behind you from out of the alley he’d been hiding in and tugs on Keladry’s cloak. He says he knows who you are looking for. That this Therin was a bad woman, and the group she was a part of had hurt his family (hit father, stole camels). And he said he knew where Therin was staying. The kid directs you to go out past the town walls, into the open sands to the north (a direction no one would normally need to travel), and then take a left at the first really big dune. Keladry thanks him for his help, and he runs off.
July 24th, late morning
The party, lacking any other leads, grabs their stuff and heads into the desert. The kid’s directions indicate several hours of walking into the desert, where it is approaching noon, in July, and as a result is something like 120 degrees on the burning sands. However, Fenrir casts endure elements on everyone, so while no one besides possibly Khemed is comfortable, everyone is at least safe from heatstroke.
Following the kid’s directions leads to a small encampment nestled between two dunes. A few tents, a few crates, but no visible inhabitants. At least not until they jump out from behind the dunes for an ambush. There are bandits wielding scimitars and head scarves, and one extremely burly orc wielding a greataxe. When the orc sees Fenrir, he lets out an enraged bellow of, “FENRIR!” and charges.
In Old R’Kassi, magic is forbidden but for those who serve the pharaoh or clergy. But you now are far, far away from anyone who would try to stop you.
The orc berserker attacks Fenrir, who turns into a dire wolf to combat him while Keladry circles to flanking position. The rest of the party deals with the bandits, who mostly manage to die fairly easily. Then one of the most injured ones crowbars off the lid of one of the crates, releasing several swarms of cantrip bugs! The bandit runs off into the sand, but one of the bugs hits him with an acid splash and he goes down. The fight gets a bit harder after that, especially since some of these bugs seem a bit tougher than the ones you fought before, and are able to cast first level spells (magic missile, color spray, and Tasha’s hideous laughter). Keladry drops into the negatives at one point, but eventually the orc goes down, followed by the remainder of the bugs.
In the fashion of true adventurers, the party’s first action after healing Keladry was to loot the bodies. Dagoth’s bracers were magical, and there were quite a few more cantrip and spell crystals to be collected. Fenrir was extremely agitated after the battle finished, but when he calmed down he revealed that he used to be a part of a mercenary group, and that some members of that group have a serious grudge against him. The orc was one of those, a berserker named Dagoth.
You also find a trail leading away from the encampment, farther into the desert. But there is time for a short rest for everyone to bandage their wounds before following it. And so ended the session.